Arizona women's basketball prepares for No. 19 UCLA
Wildcats look for bounce back and upset
Less than a week after the Arizona women’s basketball team (11-6, 3-3 Pac-12) lost to then-No. 21 Colorado by 43 points, the Wildcats will pack their bags and head to Los Angeles to play No. 19 UCLA (13-4, 4-2) tonight.
Arizona was out-rebounded by 25 against Colorado on Sunday.
Afterward, Wildcat head coach, Niya Butts, blamed the loss to the Buffaloes on a lack of physical play.
“Nothing different needed to be said this week to the girls,” Butts said. “They know they didn’t play tough enough.”
UCLA will challenge the Arizona frontcourt, as the Bruins are second in Pac-12 offensive rebounding. UCLA’s 6-foot-3 senior forward Alyssia Brewer is second on the team in scoring, with an average of 11.1 points per game She also leads the Bruins on the boards, averaging eight rebounds per game.
“We got to rebound the ball better in order to win,” Butts said.
It will be up to Arizona’s junior and senior forwards Erica Barnes and Cheshi Poston to limit Brewer and UCLA from dominating the boards like Colorado did. Barnes and Poston lead the Wildcats in rebounding with an average of 6.1 and 5.8 rebounds per game, respectively.
Two potential WNBA draft picks will face off in Los Angeles.
UCLA’s senior guard/forward Markel Walker and Arizona’s senior guard Davellyn Whyte are two athletes that the opposing coaches must plan around.
“She’s a talented player who looks to get involved early,” Butts said of Walker. “She can step back and hit a shot, but she’d rather attack off the dribble and be in the paint.”
Like Whyte, Walker was a preseason all-conference player and leads her team in points per game, 12.3, and is second in rebounds, grabbing an average of 7.9 per game. The two are expected to guard one another during the game.
The last time Arizona and UCLA met was last season in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, with the Wildcats defeating the Bruins 61-57. However, UCLA has added depth this season by not only returning four starters, but also having the nation’s No. 12 ranked recruiting class. Guard Nirra Fields leads the Bruin freshman with 8.6 points per game.
“It’ll be a challenge, but got to stay in front of them (UCLA),” Butts said. “We got to keep them out of the paint and we must give 100 percent.”