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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Last updated: 3:15pm

Arizona women's basketball prepares for exhibition


Wildcats look to start season strong in exhibition game



The Arizona women’s basketball team will prepare for the 2012-13 season with its first and only exhibition matchup. The Wildcats will host Grand Canyon University on Monday at McKale Center at 7 p.m. This will be head coach Niya Butts’ fifth year at Arizona, and this year’s Wildcats return three starters — Davellyn Whyte, Erica Barnes, and Candice Warthen. Monday’s game will also be the introduction of seven newcomers to a team that finished 15-17 last season.

In Whyte’s final season at the UA, the senior guard will try to lead Arizona to its first NCAA tournament berth since 2005. Whyte ranks in the top 10 in numerous Arizona career categories, including third in three-point field goals made and scoring average, and fifth in all-time scoring.

“Realistically my goal for the season is to do better than we did last year,” Whyte said. “I think this is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here, so I think as a whole we should accomplish that and some.”

Along with Whyte, the Arizona women will also look to Barnes and Warthen for production. Last season, Barnes led the team in rebounds (7.8 rpg) and Warthen averaged the second most points per game (11.7 ppg) behind Whyte (17.0 ppg).

Senior forwards Cheshi Poston and Cheylene Harper will bring depth to the Wildcats’ undersized frontcourt and will contribute to what Butts calls the most athletic team she’s coached at Arizona.

At the Wildcats’ media day, Butts made it clear that the newcomers would play a role this season and that she has been impressed with their progress so far. She specifically pointed to junior point guard transfer Carissa Crutchfield and junior forward transfer Alli Gloyd. The freshmen will not be asked to produce as much early in the season as some of the other Wildcats will be, but Monday’s exhibition game will be an opportunity for the freshmen to ease into their college career and relieve some of the anxiety they might be feeling.

“I’m a little nervous,” freshman guard Keyahndra Cannon said about Monday’s game. “But also really excited.”


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