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Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Last updated: 9:41am

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Wildcats women's basketball hits the road again



Yet another road game approaches for the Arizona women’s basketball team, as it looks to secure its second road win of the season.

The Wildcats (1-6) head to Birmingham, Ala., to square off against the University of Alabama, Birmingham Blazers (5-3) on Thursday at 6 p.m. MST. This will be Arizona’s sixth road game in the first eight games of the 2013-14 season.

The Wildcats are coming off a frustrating loss last Saturday against Brigham Young University in which the team lost the rebounding battle and was dominated in points in the paint. BYU exposed a key weakness down-low in an inexperienced Arizona squad.

Arizona head coach Niya Butts said she knows rebounding is a key aspect of the game and is working to improve the team’s rebounding numbers.

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By Ryan Revock / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA senior forward Erica Barnes goes to shoot the ball against Wake Forest on Nov. 26 at the McKale Center.

“Defense and rebounding is always going to take care of you when you can’t score,” Butts said. “We want to defend, we want to run, we want to rebound and we want to finish.”

UAB will not be as physically imposing as BYU was, but that doesn’t give the Wildcats a chance to rest on the boards. UAB comes into the matchup averaging 41.9 rebounds per game, even though the Wildcats have a size advantage against the Blazers.

That size advantage should point to an increase in rebounds and points in the paint for Arizona, especially now that senior forward Erica Barnes is back in the fold. Barnes missed the first four games of the season with a concussion but has since returned and emerged as a legitimate scoring option in the low-post. Barnes is averaging 9.7 points per game and has taken on a scoring role off the bench that was previously void.

“We have been trying to take more drives … and just to get in the paint,” Barnes said. “Some of them go down and some of them don’t. We just have to keep going.”

A big part of what holds the team together is the scoring duo of junior guard Candice Warthen and senior guard Kama Griffitts. Warthen and Griffitts combine to score 28.8 points per game, which accounts for 46.5 percent of the team’s 61.9 points per game.

Griffitts has been on a hot streak lately, as she’s gone 12-for-26 from the three-point line in the last three games and led or tied for the team high in scoring in each. The only thing keeping Griffitts from hitting shots has been foul trouble. She has picked up four personal fouls in each of the past two games.

“That’s something I need to work on, especially with the new rule.” Griffitts said. “That’s been my biggest struggle. I just need to be more conscious of my hands.”

The Wildcats will have 10 days off after the UAB game before playing the Texas Tech Lady Raiders at home on Dec. 15.

—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseofPayne555


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