Wildcat Women's Basketball Suffers First Loss Of Italy Tour

May 26, 2001

La Spezia, Italy -- Exhaustion was an obvious factor as the University of Arizona women's basketball team fell to the Athletic Basket La Spezia club, 81-69, on Saturday. The contest was the Wildcats' fourth in a span of only seven days. La Spezia opened the game with a 14-5 run over the first seven minutes, then pushed its lead to 14 (29-15) with just six minutes left in the half. Arizona, which is touring Italy with only sevenavailable players, answered with its own 13-4 spurt, cutting La Spezia's lead to five.

The Italian club hung on for a seven-point (39-32) advantage at halftime. The Wildcats began the second half with a 16-8 run that gave them a brief one-point edge six minutes into the half then seemed to run out of gas, as they didn't score for the remainder of the quarter. La Spezia scored 11 unanswered points to end the third quarter.

Arizona kept fighting and managed to cut the lead back to six (62-56) with seven minutes remaining, but the Cats couldn't pull out the win as La Spezia ended the gameby out-scoring Arizona, 19-13.

The Wildcats received yet another phenomenal performance from freshman forward Veranda James, who racked up game highs of 19 points and 21 rebounds. Junior guard Julie Brase added her tour high of 18 points, along with six assists, while junior forward Elizabeth Pickney contributed 14 points and two rebounds.

Freshman guard Candice Allencontinued her string of solid games, putting up eight points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Junior center LaKeisha Taylor had four points and two rebounds, and freshman guards Aimee Grzyb and Jen Chesney added three points apiece.

'This was the most physical game we've played so far, against a very experienced team,' said head coach Joan Bonvicini. 'The game showed how tired we are and that we had a tough day of travel. Even though we lost, we learned a lot that will help us for the last two games.'

'After not playing for all of last season, I've just been trying to fit back in,' said Brase, who redshirted during the regular season after having wrist surgery. 'I'm feeling more and more comfortable every time I'm out there, and now my shots are starting to fall.'

The Cats will have three days to recuperate a bit before playing again. The team will take in some of Lucca's historical sites on Sunday and will visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa before heading on to Florence. The group will stay in Florence until Tuesday morning, and while there, they will see sights that will include Michelangelo's David and Giotto's Bell Tower. On Tuesday, May 29, the group will head on to Rome, which is the last destination on the tour. The Wildcats will play again on Wednesday, May 30, against the Chieti club team at 7 p.m.

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