Women's basketball face big challenge in Bay Area
On the heels of a win over ASU, the Arizona women’s basketball team looks to build momentum this weekend during its trip to the Northern California schools.
The Wildcats (5-18, 1-11) take on No. 22 California on Friday at 8:30 p.m. MST and No. 6 Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m. MST. Both games can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.
The Wildcats struggled in their first matchups with both teams and will likely need the same kind of effort they had against ASU.
“We want to go out and play hard and try to duplicate that effort we had on Sunday [against ASU],” head coach Niya Butts said. “If we can go out there and have the same energy for 40 minutes, I’d be happy with that.”
Redshirt junior guard Candice Warthen atempts to steal the ball from redshirt sophomore guard Eliza Normen during Arizona's 68-49 win over ASU at McKale Center on Sunday.
California (16-7, 8-3) is first on the schedule and beat Arizona 79-64 in McKale Center in their first matchup. The Golden Bears controlled both ends of the court and showed why they are among the best in the conference.
However, Arizona expressed the feeling that Cal is beatable if it can put together two complete basketball halves.
“Honestly, the Cal game is very winnable,” senior forward Kama Griffitts said. “Last year we played them really tough, and last game was even closer.”
Putting together two complete halves is an area of concern for Butts and her coaching staff. There have been only a handful of games this season in which Arizona has done that.
Doing so on the road against a highly ranked opponent will be difficult to say the least. The Wildcats will be closer to that goal if they can get solid performances from senior leaders Carissa Crutchfield, Kama Griffitts and Erica Barnes.
The trio combined to score 42 points in the first matchup against California and have collectively stepped up during the offensive struggles of leading scorer Candice Warthen.
Stanford (22-2, 11-1) is second on the schedule and dominated Arizona 96-52 in McKale Center in their first matchup in what has been Arizona’s biggest margin of defeat of the season so far.
Stanford was led by star senior forward Chiney Ogwumike and a barrage of 15 3-pointers in that game.
Stopping that deadly inside-out combination is easier said than done, but should be prioritized by the Arizona coaching staff.
Winning just one of the two games would give the team its second win over a ranked opponent since 2005 and the second of this season alone.
“[Getting another win over a ranked opponent] would be huge,” Butts said. “What we’ve done up until this point, you can forget it. It’s behind us now. We have to do something different moving forward. So that’s what we’re focusing on.”
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