Arizona Defeats Oklahoma 72-69
March 20, 2005
By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Arizona proved it belonged in the NCAA tournament,winning a first-round game for the first time in five years with clutchshooting and tough defense.
Dee-Dee Wheeler scored 16 points, Jessica Arnold added 15 and theninth-seeded Wildcats advanced to the second round of the Chattanooga Regionalwith a 72-69 win Sunday over eighth-seeded Oklahoma.
Arizona (20-11), unsure of getting an invitation to the NCAAs after losingto Southern California in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament, looked incontrol with about 6 minutes left, but Oklahoma (17-13) would not back down.
The Sooners trailed 61-54 when Leah Rush hit a 3 to start a 10-3 run to tieit at 64 with 3:44 remaining.
Arizona's Natalie Jones had a 3-pointer, and Rush answered with another totie it again.
Shawntinice Polk, who was held to nine points, scored inside with 38.4seconds left to give the Wildcats a 69-67 lead. They never trailed again.
The Sooners cut the lead to 71-69 when Dionnah Jackson made two foul shotswith 6.5 seconds left, but it proved to be too late.
Jones made the first of two free throws at the other end with 5.6 secondsleft, and Oklahoma's Chelsi Welch missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Danielle Adefeso scored 10 points for Arizona, which shot 37 percent(24-of-64). The Wildcats made up for their poor shooting with defense. They hadseven steals and Oklahoma finished with 14 turnovers.
Arizona will face LSU in the second round.
The Wildcats were making their third straight NCAA appearance, but they hadnot won a first round game since 2000 in Knoxville when they beat Kent 73-61.
Oklahoma's tournament woes continued. The Sooners lost to Stanford last yearin the second round and lost in 2003 in the first round to George Washington.
The loss spoiled a great game by the Sooners' tallest starter, 6-foot-1 LeahRush, who finished with a career-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting from thefield.
Jackson added 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds
Arizona led most of the first half and was up by as many as six, but theSooners grabbed the lead before halftime with a 10-0 spurt.
The Wildcats regained the lead with an 11-0 run midway through the secondhalf and led by as many as eight before Oklahoma made a run at the end.