Wright and Kyles provide solid 1-2 punch for women's hoops

Ian Green | The Daily Wildcat Arizona women's basketball head coach Adia Barnes talks to her team during their game against Iona on Nov. 10. The Wildcats won 71-58.

In a game that had multiple double-digit scorers for the Wildcats, two faces stood out in the season opening win versus Iona on Friday; Kat Wright and Marlee Kyles.

Kat Wright, the senior transfer from Florida Atlantic, has slowly been gaining confidence after a sitting out a year for academic residency. Wright didn’t score in the first exhibition vs. Eastern New Mexico, and is still trying to figure herself out after a long break from basketball. 

“Her better basketball is ahead of her,” said head coach Adia Barnes. “She didn’t play for a long time, and she is not at a hundred percent, but she gives everything she has.”

Ian Green
Arizona senior forward Kat Wright (11) is blocked by an Iona player on Nov. 10 in McKale Center. Wright scored 13 points against Iona during the game.

In her second exhibition vs. WNMU, Wright looked more comfortable in her play. She started taking, and making more shots, and seemed to rediscover the form of her signature three. On Monday night she went 2-5, and finished with eight points.

And on Friday, Wright looked like she was back.  In a game where two teams have strong backcourts, the 3-point shot was going to be important. And Kat Wright came out firing. 

“She went seven for seven from the free throw line, she made a couple threes, she crashes hard, she played solid defense, she did a lot of what we asked from her,” Barnes said. “I have confidence in her down the stretch, for sure.”

Wright was two for six from the three, drew four fouls, and finished the game against Iona with 13 points; sitting just behind Marlee Kyles and Destiny Graham. 

Wright was expected to be an offensive force coming into this season, and as she starts finding more confidence in her playing style, she might meet and exceed those expectations. 

One player, with a little less experience, who also had an impressive game was Freshman guard Marlee Kyles. She led the team in scoring vs. Iona with 17 points, and was second in scoring last exhibition vs. WNMU, with eighteen. 

Versus Iona Kyles not only proved she can lead the offense in points, but she can be a leader for  other players too. With a team thin at the point guard, she gives the Arizona offense a much needed sense of direction that wasn’t there last season.

Ian Green
Arizona freshman Marlee Kyles (13) dribble through Iona defense on Nov. 10 in McKale Center. Kyles scored a total of 17 points against Iona.

“With being a point guard, they (the team) look towards me a lot,” Kyles said. “I can feel they have a lot of confidence in me, and I’m really proud of it.”

Kyles is breaking through nervous energy that many freshman face in the beginning of the season, her aggressive and dynamic playing style is starting to shine through, making a huge impact on the court. 

“Marlee is getting better every game,” Barnes said. “She’s super aggressive, and that’s a dynamic we don’t normally have, so I like that.”

Even at 5’7 Marlee was one of the team leaders in rebounds, with six at the end of the game. Kyles continued to find open lanes, make the right passes, crash the rim and sink three pointers, throughout the night, only making a couple of mistakes. 

“I know I’m going to get a couple of bad shots out of Marlee. She’s still playing like a Freshman, and she makes a lot of Freshman mistakes... but she’s always trying,” Barnes said. “But If you see a small guard like Marlee get six rebounds, that means she’s tough. She doesn’t back down from people, and I love that.”

However from the sideline, although Kyles has only played in three games so far, she looks as poised and professional as a three-year veteran. 

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