TUCSON, Ariz. -The University of Arizona women's basketball team stumbled in its final exhibition game, falling to the New Zealand National Team, 70-62, Thursday in McKale Center. The Wildcats came out flat in the first half and were never able to regain their balance.
Arizona went into the lockerroom at halftime with a 31-29 advantage. The Cats went on a 16-5 run in the first nine minutes of the second half, building their lead to 47-36, but the New Zealand team tied the game at 57 with three minutes remaining in the game. The New Zealand team went seven-of-nine from the free throw line in the final three minutes, and the team shot 79 percent from the line for the game.
The UA committed 34 turnovers to New Zealand's 26 turnovers. New Zealand had 15 steals, while the Wildcats had a team total of 11 steals.
"I am really disappointed with the way we played out there tonight," head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "I think that the biggest thing that we can be thankful for is that this is a wake-up call. You have to give the New Zealand team a lot of credit. Obviously, we hate to lose, but I would rather that it happen in a game like this where we can learn from it."
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Pickney led the Wildcats with 17 points, and senior forward Tatum Brown added 13 points and five rebounds. Senior guard Felecity Willis contributed 10 assists and four steals, while sophomore center LaKeisha Taylor pulled down six boards.
"We were not focused tonight. Our turnovers hurt us a lot. I was just trying to play as hard as I could, so at the end of the game I could be proud of what I did tonight," Pickney said.
"We missed a lot of free throws and had a lot of turnovers at inopportune times," Bonvicini said. "On defense, there were times that we played very well, but there were times that we were very lax."
New Zealand's Gina Farmer led the team with 17 points and five rebounds, while Julie Ofsoski contributed 12 points and six rebounds.
"This is a huge wake-up call for us tonight. Coach Bonvicini says that we have a lack of heart. It's good to lose and learn from it... it's even better to lose early in the year," Willis said.
Arizona begins regular-season action when it travels to Honolulu, Hawai'i, for the Hawaiian Regent Classic on Friday, Nov. 19-21, where the Wildcats will face Oklahoma, Tennessee Tech and host team Hawai'i.