CHANDLER, Ariz. - Wesleyan's girls basketball team got 22 points from Anne Marie Armstrong as the Wolves defeated Brea Olinda (Calif.) 49-41 on Thursday in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions.
"It was ugly," Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. "You could tell we've been off a week and had a long plane ride. But the kids fought hard."
Wesleyan, which is ranked No. 19 by ESPN, will play Regis Jesuit (Colo.) today at 5 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the Joe Smith Division.
Brea Olinda led 18-11 after the first quarter and then Armstrong took over in the second period. The 6-foot-3 Georgia signee scored 17 of her 22 points in the first half to tie the game 24-24 at halftime.
"Anne Marie just took over," Azar said. "They really didn't have anybody her size to play her at the guard position. They had a tall player in the post, but she couldn't cover her on the perimeter."
Erin Hall hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished with 14 points. Kennington Groff hit a 3 before the end of the third period to put the Wolves ahead by four.
Wesleyan led by 12 in the fourth quarter, but late free throws made the score closer.
Wesleyan freshman Holli Wilkins played great defense on Brea Olinda's Justine Hartman, one of the top sophomore recruits in the country.
The Wolves will play Regis Jesuit, which is ranked No. 25 in the nation by ESPN, and beat Bishop McGuinness on Thursday.
Regis Jesuit has seven players that have signed with Division I colleges, led by 5-foot-4 guard Mariah Williams, who is headed to UCLA. The rest of the team averages over 6-feet tall.
"That's going to be an interesting match up," Azar said of Regis Jesuit's height.
Wesleyan is the first school from Gwinnett County to play in the tournament since 2006 when Collins Hill won it all with standout Maya Moore.
Eleven of the 16 teams in Wesleyan's bracket are ranked in ESPN's top 50, including No. 1 Long Beach Poly of California. It was Poly that Collins Hill beat for the 2006 championship.
Wesleyan, which won last year's Class AA state title and has five championships this decade, began the season ranked No. 9 in USA Today's preseason rankings. But the Wolves (7-1) lost in their second game of the season to Norcross in the Parkview Tip-Off Classic. Since then they've won six in a row, including a big win over Butler, N.C., earlier this month.