TUCSON, Ariz. - Four University of Arizona women's basketball players scored in double figures and the Wildcats beat Brigham Young 76-71 Saturday, despite 36 points from Cougar guard Erin Thorn.
Junior guard Tysell Bozeman scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half, leading the Wildcats for the game. Bozeman missed four of her first five shots in the first half, but pulled Arizona to within one, 19-18, with a 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the half. She then made two more shots, one a 3-pointer, and hit two free throws to help Arizona (1-0) take a 36-23 halftime lead.
"Tysell Bozeman had a great first game of the year," head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "She played smart and opened things up in the first half, knocking down a couple of threes."
BYU (0-1) battled back in the second half, taking a one-point lead with 16:18 remaining, but Arizona's defense shut down the Cougars for a while, and the Wildcats held on for the win. Arizona also controlled the boards at key times, outrebounding BYU 41-36 for the game.
"Defense and rebounding are going to be the keys for us this year in our success," Bonvicini said. "At times today, we had let-downs in these areas, and we need to work on that. Take nothing away from BYU, they are a very good team. I am very happy that we were able to pull this one out."
The play of two freshmen down the stretch also was a big plus for the Wildcats. Freshman forward Veranda James notched a double-double in her first collegiate game with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Aimee Gryzb added 12 points off the bench and played solid perimeter defense in the second half.
Gryzb's steal and fastbreak lay-up with 4:06 left in the game gave the Wildcats an 11-point lead, 68-57. She also made 3-of-4 free throw attempts in the final 2:10 to help ice the game.
Two of Arizona's veterans played an important role in the second half, as well. Junior forward Elizabeth Pickney scored 15 points, seven on free throws in the second half, while senior guard Reshea Bristol scored all nine of her points after halftime.
Thorn led all scorers with 36 points and tied a McKale Center record with eight 3-pointers. Stacy Jensen had 13 for the Cougars.
The Wildcats play their first road contest of the year Monday, Nov. 20, against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Arizona then plays at UC Santa Barbara Sunday, Nov. 26, before returning home Nov. 28 to host Rice.