Nov. 18, 2001
Tucson, Ariz. (Nov. 18) -- The Arizona women's basketball team out-lasted the visiting Pepperdine Waves, 81-77, to earn a season-opening win in front of 1621 at the McKale Center on Sunday.
After dominating much of the first half, the Wildcats had to scratch their way to victory in the final six minutes of the game. With a 49-32 lead over Pepperdine at the half, Arizona quickly stretched its lead over the Waves to 56-32, after starting the second with a 7-0 run, but soon saw its comfortable spread evaporate.
"We have a lot to work on," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "In the first half, we were confident. In the second half we allowed Pepperdine to get back into the game. I'm just glad that we came out with the win."
Pepperdine's first major run at the Wildcats' advantage came with 12:14 left in the second half, as the Waves outscored Arizona 12-3 over a four-minute span, cutting the lead to 13 points (61-48).
Behind the energetic play of junior Damaris Hinojosa, who scored 11 points in the second half, the Waves continued to chip away at Arizona's lead. Pepperdine, who had trailed Arizona by double-digits since 7:05 in the first-half, cut the Wildcat's lead to 64-57 with 7:29 left to play behind a lay-up by junior Keani Christianson.
Behind a clutch three-pointer by Hinojosa, Pepperdine went ahead with 1:25 to go, 73-72, the Waves' first lead in the game. Arizona bounced right back, gaining a 75-73 lead with 1:00 left in the game behind a three-pointer by the junior guard Julie Brase, who lead all scorers with a career-high 18 points.
"Pepperdine did a good job double-teaming our post," said Bonvicini. "They never gave up. We got hesitant and gave Pepperdine the confidence that they needed."
The Waves managed to tie the game at 75-all, on a fastbreak layup by juniorTamara McDonald with just 45 seconds left in the game. The Wildcats relied on free-throws the rest of the way to give them their first regular season victory of the 2001-02 season. Three different Wildcats went to the line with less than 30 seconds to play, converting all six attempts to seal the victory.
Brase led Arizona's scoring efforts with her 18 points, while chipping in a game-high seven assists. In her regular-season debut, freshman guard Dee-Dee Wheeler contributed nicely to the Wildcat scoring attack, shooting 4-for-4 from the charity strip, and 4-of-9 from the field, to finish with 15 points. Junior wing Krista Warren also made her presence felt, putting up nine points and grabbing a career-high-tying 11 rebounds.
Pepperdine was led in scoring by junior Damaris Hinojosa, who tallied a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Junior Keani Christianson also contributed 11 points and seven rebounds for the Waves.
"It was a good win for us," said Bonvicini. "It was our first game of the season, and we had a lot of jitters. Our backs were against the wall, and we responded well."
With the victory, the Arizona Wildcats (1-0) improve to 9-2 in season openers under head coach Joan Bonvicini, including the last seven straight. Next up for the Wildcats is last season's WNIT champion Ohio State at home on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.