Arizona women's basketball swept by ASU
For Arizona women’s basketball the goal for the rest of the season is simple, improve and move on. This was not the case Sunday in another Pac-12 defeat to rival ASU, the second loss to the Sun Devils in three days, this time by a score of 69-45 in McKale Center.
Whether it was rebounding, shooting, turnovers or just plain enthusiasm, the Wildcats were outdone. Even the crowd in McKale was overmatched by the traveling student section from ASU who was louder for a majority of the game.
The loss drops Arizona to 6-21, 2-14 in the Pac-12, staring at the worst conference win total since the 2013-14 season when the Wildcats won just one game.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 7-0 lead off of ball movement, offensive rebounding and capitalizing off of five turnovers in five minutes by Arizona. A look at the numbers will tell you that the Wildcats were statistically beaten in turnovers, rebounds, bench points, points in the paint, 3-pointers made, 3-point percentage, field goal percentage and second chance points. That's not a recipe for success.
ASU’s Jamie Ruden and Kianna Ibis dominated from the forward position both the inside and out. The two had a combined 26 points including 3-of-7 from three. Add in guard Robbi Ryan’s play as a physical guard and her 10 rebounds to go along with nine points and four assists and it points to one team being more aggressive than the other.
Senior JaLea Bennett was a non-factor according to Arizona head coach Adia Barnes because of the Sun Devils weak side defense and ability to force her to go right. Bennett had six points on the night and didn’t score in the second half.
Sam Thomas led the Wildcats with 11 points but came down with only a single rebound after being in the top of the conference for rebounding per game. Lucia Alonso was the only other player to score in double-figures with ten points before exiting the fourth quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. Thomas says that ASU’s physical toughness created difficulties for her to grab rebounds and thus led to an uncharacteristic output from the freshman.
“We don’t know how to win yet as a team, we haven’t done it,” Thomas said. “…You got to play 40 minutes of basketball.”
According to Barnes, fatigue is playing a factor and has for the last part of the season. She points to Thomas as an example and players like Alonso who have logged 38 minutes on a continuous basis.
“Everyone has hit a wall,” Thomas said. “But we expected it and know we just have to push through….It’s hard that we’re not winning a lot of games…although we’re losing games now, we know that we will get better for the future.”
The Wildcats head into their final series of the season next weekend against No. 9 Oregon and No. 15 Oregon State.
“They’re both expected to come in and crush us, so we have nothing to lose,” Barnes said.
Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter