Women's hoops star Whyte redeems herself against Utah
This weekend saw a classic story of redemption in McKale Center as one of Arizona women’s basketball’s best players performed Sunday after she was benched during Friday’s game.
On Friday night, the Wildcats lost 55-42 to No. 21 Colorado. Senior guard Davellyn Whyte was pulled from the game and sat the final nine minutes on the bench for not playing defense. Whyte tied her season low of six points and was read the riot act by assistant coach E.C. Hill.
It’s hard to imagine Matt Scott, Brian Slugocki, Solomon Hill or Brigette Del Ponte getting yanked from the field, ice, court or diamond like that.
It looked like a clear case of frustration boiling over — that was Arizona’s eighth loss in a row — but it was embarrassingly awkward.
Gabriela Diaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA women's basketball team play against Utah at McKale. Arizona ended their 8-game losing streak with a 61-52 win.
Before that game, the storyline for the UA (12-13, 4-10 Pac-12) had been that Whyte was rarity amid a miserable season. She just passed Dee-Dee Wheeler for second on the all-time school scoring charts.
After the Colorado game, head coach Niya Butts’ press conference was delayed about an hour and players were not available for comment. When Butts did arrive at the press conference, she was mostly positive.
“Dav[ellyn] has done a lot for this team, a lot for this program, and she knows what she needs to do,” Butts said. “When we make a mistake, we have to get back on defense and be able to move on to the next play. I think frustration got the best of her [Friday] night. We had to make some changes there.”
On Sunday, Whyte probably had her best game of the season, with 21 points, the highest in the game, nine rebounds and five steals. The UA beat Utah 61-52 to end its losing streak.
“I thought she was much, much better, especially on the offensive end. She stayed solid,” Butts said. “She made an effort to play there in the first half that was pretty amazing. We turned the ball over and she sprinted back to slow down the ball, that could have easily been an easy two points. She did a lot of good things [Sunday]. She led the team a lot more.”
Arizona probably would have won the game regardless of the Friday soul-searching. During the losing streak, all the games were close except for blow outs at Colorado and No. 4 Stanford and the win against Utah on the road. On Sunday the Wildcats played much better.
If the Wildcats had consistent No. 2 and No. 3 scoring threats, they would’ve blown out the Utes no problem.
Arizona won’t make the big dance unless it wins the Pac-12 tournament. With two games against ASU this week and the L.A. schools coming to town, Arizona has four very winnable games left. ASU has lost seven games in a row.
Friday’s drama looks to have turned the season around.
“I sure hope so. I sure hope so,” Butts said, when asked if Friday was a turning point. “It feels good to get the win. You never want to look too far ahead, so it was a turning point for us. We are going right into ASU on Tuesday and that’s about as far as we’ll look.”