Short-handed women's basketball hosts mountain schools
The depleted Arizona women’s basketball team (5-20, 1-13 Pac-12) looks to end its two-game losing skid as it hosts the Utah Utes tonight at 7 p.m. and the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday at 3 p.m.
With a season filled with season ending injuries and not having enough players to practice with, the Wildcats might be without their starting guard Carissa Crutchfield tonight. Arizona head coach Niya Butts said her sprained ankle is a game time decision.
“She practiced a little today, but we need to see if the swelling is still there on her ankle the next day,” Butts said on her radio show earlier this week.
With the possibility of having only six players, Butts said she appreciates the effort freshman forward Breanna Workman is putting in.
Senior Carissa Crutchfield is at risk of missing her last weekend of games in McKale due to an ankle injusry last weekend.
“I think [Workman] has come on strong late this season,” Butts said of the forward, who is averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. “She is starting to get it especially on defense. She is continuing to work and play hard and dive on the floor, regardless of the score.”
Workman has scored a combined 23 points the last three games.
Freshman forward LaBrittney Jones, who is averaging 6.8 points and 5.7 rebounds, is the other freshman receiving high praise from the sixth year head coach.
“Jones is working just as hard on the court,” Butts said. “It’s impressive because she is coming off an ACL tear from high school. She putting in every quality minute and can only play on spurts due to her injury not being 100 percent.”
Utah (10-15, 3-11) is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, and as a team is obviously struggling just as much as Arizona to get a win.
But Butts thinks Utah’s star player Michelle Plouffee, who scored 31 points and 14 rebounds in the 67-66 loss to Washington last Sunday, will be a tough matchup.
“She is definitely is top three to five player in the conference that has had a great season,” Butts said of Plouffee, who tied Utah’s career rebounding record and moved into fourth place on the school’s scoring list.
Arizona will need to keep Plouffee in check when securing rebounds for any chance to get in transition for easy baskets. Arizona ranks last in the Pac–12 in rebounds (34.7) and 11th in rebounding margin (-4.2) per game.
Arizona also needs to be cautious of three pointers as Utah’s makes 36 percent of their three point field goals (third in the Pac -12).
The Wildcats have let opponents make 32 percent of their three point field goals (eighth in the Pac -12).
Butts has mentioned Arizona’s problem with letting teams shoot jump shots instead of making them shoot off the dribble many times.
“We need to not help the teams we play by letting them get comfortable from the perimeter and making shots,” Butts said. “We lose our focus on how to defend our opponents. We played into their hands.”
Looking forward to Sunday, the Wildcats look to avenge last month’s 68-47 embarrassing loss at Colorado (14-11, 4-10). Cal’s stingy defense forced 20 Arizona turnovers in the win, and that is a huge reason why they rank third in the Pac -12 in scoring defense (64 points allowed per game).
“We need to handle the ball better as turnovers have plagued us numerous times this year,” Butts said.
—Follow Tyler Keckeisen @Tyler_Keckeisen