Women's basketball season in review
One of the most disappointing Arizona women’s basketball seasons in recent history has finally concluded after a first-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament to USC last week. The Wildcats finished the year 5-25 overall and 1-17 in Pac-12 conference play.
Before Pac-12 media day in late October, injuries had already started to take their toll on Arizona.
Senior Alli Gloyd tore her ACL and was the first of several key Wildcats to suffer injuries. Following her unfortunate lead was freshman Dejza James, who also tore her ACL.
Senior Erica Barnes (23) sits on the bench during Arizona's 52-47 loss against Utah at the McKale Memorial Center on Feb. 22. The women's basketball team ended their season 5-25 and are currently 1-17 at the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona started the season by winning one out of their first eight games with each of those losses by 12 or fewer points. The team struggled to execute down the stretch in games and just couldn’t pull out the close games.
However, the Wildcats finished their non-conference schedule by stringing together their first and only winning streak of the season. The back-to-back-to-back victories against Texas Tech, UC Riverside and Arkansas-Pine Bluff ended 2013 on a high note.
Conference play started on Jan. 3 with a three-point loss in Seattle, Wash. to Washington. The loss was the first of 11 straight conference losses for the Wildcats.
The middle of the losing streak also saw freshman Ashley Merrill transfer from the program. The 6-foot-1 guard played a key reserve role for an Arizona lacking enough bodies to field a full practice.
There was really no debate over the high point of the season: the lone conference victory over then No. 11 ASU. The Sun Devils came into the game on Feb. 9 having already beaten Arizona by 24 points just five days earlier.
The Wildcats played their most complete game of the season en route to the program’s first victory over a ranked opponent since January of 2005.
The low point has to be the team’s performance in 2014, which saw Arizona win only one of the team’s 19 games in the 2014 calendar year.
Head coach Niya Butts hasn’t been the most successful coach in Arizona history, but she’s never been through quite as bad a streak as she experienced this year, and might never go through a similar streak again.
In his March 12 Wildcat Wednesday email, Athletic Director Greg Byrne gave Butts a vote of confidence. He said that improvements to McKale Center and Arizona’s top 25 recruiting class make him optimistic for the future and that Butts will remain as head coach.
In such a disappointing season, it was tough for players to stand out amid all the losses. One player that stood out throughout was senior guard Carissa Crutchfield.
Crutchfield didn’t have to score to make an impact on the game, but there was a noticeable difference offensively when she was on and off the court.
Without Crutchfield the team might have won only one or two games.
Quote of the season
Junior guard Candice Warthen on the team’s inconsistency: “It’s always two or three people that have a good game. It’s never all five people. We never have all seven people play together and have a good game. If we have good stats for everybody, then we will probably better. All seven of us need to step up.”
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555