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Arizona Flies High in Its Debut

March 15, 1997|From Associated Press

The Arizona women's basketball team did what it intended to do and it paid off with a victory in its first ever NCAA tournament game.

Marte Alexander scored 21 points and Lisa Griffith added 18 as the Wildcats routed Western Kentucky, 76-54, in the first round of the NCAA West Regional Friday night at Athens. Ga.

"We tried to exploit them from the very beginning," Arizona Coach Joan Bonvicini said. "Our defense picked up its intensity and that takes teams out of their game. We were very fortunate tonight."

The Wildcats posted a school-record 23rd victory against seven defeats going into Sunday's second-round game against Georgia.

"We came out knowing what we had to do," Alexander said. "We were all very excited to go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in Arizona history."

Griffith, who made five of six three-point shots, scored six points in the opening minutes as Arizona raced to a 12-0 lead. Western Kentucky (22-9) made it 23-19 midway through the half, but could not get any closer.

Adia Barnes scored 15 for the Wildcats, who tied for fourth in the Pacific 10 Conference and won for the 10th time in 13 games. Danielle McCulley led the Hilltoppers with 17 points and was their only player in double figures.

Western Kentucky, which shared the Sun Belt Conference title with Louisiana Tech, had won six of its previous seven games, losing to Tech in the conference tournament final.

"I thought we came out tentative early and dug ourselves a big hole," Western Coach Paul Sanderford said. "Griffith was key for them. She hit some big threes."

In the second game at Athens, La'Keshia Frett and Kedra Holland-Corn each scored 22 points as Georgia (23-5) overpowered Eastern Kentucky (24-6), 91-55.

At Charlottesville, Va., Utah (24-5) edged Iowa State (17-11), 66-57, to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game. Julie Krommenhoek made four of the Utes' eight three-point shots. . . . Monick Foote scored 26 points for Virginia (22-7) in a 96-74 victory over Troy State (23-7).


"I'm getting real tired of these overtimes in the NCAA tournament," Michigan State Coach Karen Langeland said after the Spartans (22-7) needed overtime to squeeze past Portland, 75-70, at Chapel Hill, N.C.

Michigan State was ousted from the 1991 NCAA second round after a three-overtime 96-94 loss to Oklahoma State. Last year, the Spartans got by Massachusetts, 60-57, in overtime.

Kristen Rasmussen had 23 points--including four the Spartans' seven points in overtime--and 11 rebounds.

All-Big Ten forward Paula Sanders added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans.

Michigan State's Jamie Wesley had 14 points, hitting a layup with nine seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, and adding another basket in the extra period that gave the Spartans a 73-70 lead.

Kim Green had 22 points for Portland (27-3), which has never made it past the first round in four consecutive tries.

"We recognized we made way too many critical errors at the wrong times," Portland Coach Jim Sollars said, noting Portland's 21 turnovers, three of them in the extra period.

Also at Chapel Hill, Tracy Reid scored 20 points as North Carolina defeated Harvard, 78-53. Chanel Wright added 17 points for the Tar Heels (28-2), while former Thousand Oaks High star Marion Jones had 15 as North Carolina cruised to its 20th victory in the last 21 starts. Harvard (20-7) was led by Allison Feaster's 16 points.

At Tuscaloosa, Ala., Atlantic 10 champion St. Joseph's (26-4) won its 18th in a row behind Megan Compain's 24 points, beating Kansas State (19-10), 70-52. . . . Shalonda Enis had 23 points as Alabama (24-6) overwhelmed St. Francis (21-9), 94-50.


Louisiana Tech Coach Leon Barmore called it one of the Techsters' "worst defensive games of the year."

St. Peter's Coach Mike Granelli had another view of Tech's 94-50 victory at Ruston, La.

"Man, after winning like this they need to get their act together," Granelli joked.

Amanda Wilson scored 27 points and Alisa Burras 21 to lead the Techsters (30-3) past St. Peter's (25-4).

The victory improved their home winning streak to 33 games--third-longest in the nation and broke St. Peter's 18-game winning streak.

Louisiana Tech, which advanced to a second-round game Sunday against Auburn, never trailed, leading by as many as 22 points in the first half and went into intermission ahead, 47-27.

Tech's defense forced 19 turnovers, allowed St. Peter's only a .294 shooting percentage and had a 51-33 advantage on the boards. Still, Barmore was not happy.

"Overall, it was just not one of our better games," he said. "If we go at Auburn in the same manner then we've got only one game left to play. And I have to take a lot of the blame. It was not one of my better coaching performances.

"It upsets me that the team I saw out there tonight wasn't the one I wanted to see."

In another game at Ruston, Justine Agbatan made two free throws with 28 seconds left to give Auburn (22-9) a 68-65 victory over Louisville (20-9).

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