TUCSON, Ariz. - With huge contributions from its post players, the University of Arizona women's basketball team withstood a second half rally by Kansas, edging the Jayhawks, 81-73, Friday night at McKale Center.
Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney led the way for the Wildcats (10-2), scoring a game-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, to go with eight rebounds. She was also 6-of-7 from the free throw line, with all six of her made shots coming with under seven minutes to play.
Kansas (6-4) led 34-33 at the half, but Arizona took a lead quickly in the second on baskets by Pickney and freshman forward Veranda James. The Jayhawks then went on a 9-2 run to take a 45-39 lead with 17:02 on the clock.
The Wildcats slowly chipped away at Kansas, as the lead changed eight times in the next 10 minutes. Arizona took the lead for good with 6:01 remaining on a free throw by senior guard Reshea Bristol.
"We controlled the tempo much better in the second half and did a better job on the boards," Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I am very pleased with our play down the stretch. We played gutsy and scrappy and came out on top."
James returned to action for the first time since Dec. 17, scoring 17 points on 7-of-11 from the floor. James also had seven rebounds and two steals before fouling out with 2:29 remaining. Junior center LaKeisha Taylor was also solid in her first collegiate start, scoring seven points and blocking three shots.
Senior guard Reshea Bristol notched her second double-double of the season, scoring 11 points to go with 10 assists. Freshman guard Aimee Gryzb added 13 points, including two free throws with 12 seconds left to ice the game.
Although Kansas out-rebounded the Wildcats 46-38, Arizona's defense limited the Jayhawks to 37 percent shooting from the field, 22 percent from 3-point range.
Forward Brooke Reves led Kansas with 16 points, while forward Jaclyn Johnson added 14 and had a game-high nine rebounds.
The Wildcats open Pacific-10 Conference play on the road Jan. 4 in Berkeley, Calif., against California, and then travel to Stanford for a Jan. 6 game against the Cardinal. Arizona returns to McKale Jan. 11 to play Washington State.