Arizona 75, Santa Clara 63
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Marte Alexander had 23 points Friday night, leading No. 9 Arizona to a 75-63 victory over Santa Clara in the first round of the East Regional.
Alexander capped a 12-0 run with two field goals and a three-point play in the first 2:43 of the second half as the Wildcats (22-6) came from behind. They exorcised the demons of the first-round exit that befell the Arizona men’s team five years ago against the Broncos. Arizona was the second seed in 1993 and Santa Clara was the 15th, but won 64-61.
In this game, Santa Clara came in seeded No. 14 to Arizona’s third. And the Broncos (23-8) opened a 36-31 halftime lead.
But the Wildcats outscored Santa Clara 4-0 in the final 2:28 of the first half, and made it a 16-0 reversal with their surge in the second.
When Alexander completed her three-point play with 17:17 to play, the Wildcats were ahead 43-36. Santa Clara never regained the lead.
Adia Barnes had 16 points for the Wildcats, and DeAngela Minter had 12 of her 14 in the second half.
Jessica Banford scored 18 points for Santa Clara, and Katie Pursley had 13, Brook Staebell 11 and Lisa Sacco 10 points and eight assists.
No more than four points separated the teams in the first half until Banford made two straight baskets _ sending the Broncos ahead 23-22 with the first _ and two free throws.
Anne Garrison capped the 8-0 spurt with a layup after an assist by Sacco, and Santa Clara had a 29-22 lead with 5:32 left.
Two minutes later, another layup by Banford made it 36-27, but Alexander and Felecity Willis scored for the Wildcats before halftime.