Despite a valiant second-half comeback, the Arizona women’s basketball lost its season opener 76-72 to California State Bakersfield on Monday night. The Wildcats used a 16-1 run to cut into a large halftime deficit and later tied the game. However, the UA was never able to take the lead — turnovers and an inability to take advantage of offensive rebounds hurt the team.
“We just didn’t have enough,” Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts said. “Bakersfield was hands down the much better team tonight.”
The Wildcats struggled to defend Bakersfield’s shooters on one end and played sloppy on the other, committing 21 turnovers while dishing out just 12 assists.
“We talk about energy and execution all the time, and tonight, we didn’t have much of any of it,” Butts said. “I thought we got exactly what we deserved.”
Before the ball even tipped, Arizona had its first and only lead of the night thanks to two technical-foul free throws after Bakersfield failed to turn in its lineup on time.
The Roadrunners went on to dominate the UA in the first half behind a string of seven 3-pointers, including a total of five from junior Alyssa Shannon. Senior Tyonna Outland was the game’s leading scorer with 25 points.
At the half, Bakersfield led 52-37, and it looked like things might get out of hand until Arizona took advantage of a nine-minute Roadrunners field-goal drought to cut the lead from 60-40 to 61-56.
“We made some adjustments, came out and went to a zone and that helped us,” Butts said. “Offensively, we started to make some plays and made a little run there, but we just didn’t have enough to get us over the hump.”
Freshman Charise Holloway, starting in her first career game, sparked Arizona in the second half with a pair of 3-pointers, finishing second on the team with 12 points. Point guard Candice Warthen scored a team-high 18 points, while senior Alli Gloyd also reached double digits in points.
In the game’s final three minutes, the Wildcats had multiple chances to tie or take the lead but couldn’t come up with buckets or key defensive stops.
Down 72-70 with 24 seconds on the clock, forward LaBrittney Jones got three looks from right under the basket to tie the game but could not convert on any.
Jones finished the game with 14 points and 13 rebounds, good enough for a double-double.
“I was pretty comfortable around the glass, but I have to do a better job of finishing,” Jones said. “I got a lot of offensive rebounds, but I didn’t finish my shots.”
Bakersfield made its free throws in the final seconds and prevented Arizona from possibly taking the game to overtime.
“Tonight, we weren’t disciplined defensively, we weren’t disciplined offensively and we didn’t make plays,” Butts said. “We got the result we got.”
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