Arizona women's hoops continues to struggle
The Arizona women’s basketball team is off to a 0-4 start in Pac-12 play. However, signs point to an uptick that could lead to a win soon.
The Wildcats began on the road in the Rocky Mountains versus Utah and Colorado. Neither game was close and both games highlighted the weaknesses of the team: size and depth.
Against Utah, Arizona was overmatched down low, and the Utes had twice as many rebounds as the Wildcats, winning the game going away by well over 30 points. In the game, freshman Marlee Kyles suffered an apparent concussion and forward Sam Thomas was hit in the eye and had to leave the game.
The Colorado game was a bit closer, but the size once again was an issue as Buffaloes forward Janea Bunn muscled her way to rebounds and forced Wildcat forward Destiny Graham into foul trouble. The boards combined with Colorado’s ability to hit the three made it nearly impossible for Arizona to overcome the loss of Kyles, who sat the game out due to a concussion.
“Nothing is going to be easy for us,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “We have to continue to work and play smarter, especially defensively. We had too many breakdowns. But I was happy with the way we bounced back after such a tough game in Utah. It hurt us that Marlee [Kyles] was out.”
Shooting was the Wildcats’ downfall for the next two games, the first for the Wildcats at home this season, but the task was versus two ranked opponents, Cal and Stanford.
Stanford began the two game set by jumping to a 23-11 lead and never looked back. Couple that with a 30 percent shooting effort and being out rebounded 51-32 and the recipe for a Cardinal win was easy.
Against California, the Wildcats had their best effort of the season despite getting nudged out by two points. The situation for Arizona was different this time around, trying to hold on to a 10-point lead. However, Mikayla Cowling was everything the Golden Bears needed, and at just the right time. Dropping 5-of-9 threes, Cowling brought Cal back and eventually to the win as freshman Sammy Fatkin was unable to get a clean look at the game winning three as time expired.
“I felt like we played well for about thirty minutes,” Barnes told Arizona Athletics. “I felt that we controlled the whole tempo of the game in the first half. The second half they went on a run and Cowling was the zone buster and hit some threes. I feel like we have grown in the last couple games, but there is still a ways to go.”
Things could be worse for Arizona despite the 0-4 start, which bodes well moving forward. Turnovers are down and point guard Lucia Alonso is playing the best basketball of her career, looking as confident as any player on the team. Thomas continues to be the do-it-all player Arizona needs, and is amongst the best rebounders in the Pac-12. Senior Jalea Bennett has doubled her career-high scoring average from 6.1 to 15.9.
All in all, with a team full of newcomers and an eye on the future, this group continues to take its hits, which was expected coming into the year. With a loaded Pac-12, who knows when that will turn around, but their play at home this past weekend could lead one to believe this inexperienced team is trending up.
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