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Monday, July 28, 2014 | Last updated: 11:42pm

Arizona women's basketball prepares for mountain west road trip



A brief two-game road trip looms for the Arizona women’s basketball team (4-13, 0-6) as it takes on the Colorado Buffaloes tonight at 7 p.m. and the Utah Utes on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Colorado (11-6, 1-5) has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the AP Top 25 poll this season, but is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

The Buffaloes allow the second fewest points in the Pac-12 Conference at 62.6 per game and are the second best team in the conference in defending the 3-point line by allowing opponents to make only 27 percent of shots attempted from beyond the arc.

That stingy Colorado defense could provide too much to handle for the struggling Arizona offense.

“We really need to be tough,” UA senior guard Kama Griffitts said. “We just need to make sure we execute our game plan.”

Those offensive struggles have been a driving factor behind the current six-game Arizona losing streak. The Wildcats average 60.4 points per game and have managed to eclipse that average only twice during their losing streak.

The team struggles greatly from a lack of ball movement, which in turn leads to an increase in poor-quality shots attempts. Far too often, the Wildcats uses the majority of the 30-second shot clock and has to force up a subpar attempt in the last few seconds of their possession.

“It’s one of those things where whether it’s shot clock awareness … not setting and using screens … not getting to the right spots,” UA head coach Niya Butts said. “Either way, when you’re having to take shots because you’re either pressing to make a shot or you have to get it up because of the shot clock situation … those are not going to be good shots, typically.”

Consistently attempting poor shots is a huge reason why Arizona is at the bottom in the Pac-12 in scoring (12th), and near the bottom in field goal percentage (10th) and assists (9th).

If the offense continues to be so inefficient, Arizona will struggle mightily in a hostile environment like the one they will face in Boulder, Colo.

Getting junior guard Candice Warthen easy baskets to start the game should help jump-start the offense. Warthen is Arizona’s leading scorer at 11.9 points per game and is coming off her worst game of the season, as she went 0-11 from the field and scored 0 points in a loss against California on Jan. 20.

“I think it’s more mental than anything,” Butts said. “I thought some of [Warthen’s] shots were tough shots. A lot of that comes from wanting to make one so bad because you’ve been shooting the ball poorly.”

Looking forward, the Wildcats’ next opponent will be Utah (8-9, 1-5) in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday. Both games can be viewed via live stream on pac-12.com.

—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555


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