Dejza James recorded her first career double-double as the Arizona women's basketball team staved off Utah State in a 61-57 victory Wednesday night in McKale Center.
The win improves the Wildcats' record to 8-2 on the season and comes after a 75-51 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.
James finished with a season-high 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.
"She played awesome tonight," Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. "We wouldn't have won this game tonight without Dejza bringing tremendous energy off the bench. She made so many plays that kept us in the game or got us a new possession. She tipped some balls, she hustled down some balls, came out of nowhere and got rebounds.
"She had an incredible game tonight and what's funny is she practiced really, really well all week also, so it was good to see that translate to the game."
Arizona held a 48-34 lead heading into final quarter of play, but Utah State was able to chip away considerably. Aggie guard Rachel Brewster caught fire and scored ten points in the first seven minutes of the period, and her layup put the Aggies within four with 2:56 left in the game.
"I think offensively we were taking too many quick shots," UA forward LaBrittney Jones said. "We were up, we should've just kept using the clock more and be more patient, and then defensively we were getting a lot of fouls and they were getting to the free throw line to cut that lead down."
Utah State had hit Arizona in the mouth — literally, as Jones took a shot to the face — but it didn't stop her from delivering the dagger, scoring an and-one with her left hand to put the Wildcats up 59-52 with 1:48 left in the fourth.
"It was a good feeling," Jones said. "Coach always tells me to use my left hand because I have a left hand, but sometimes I don't use it, and Lucia (Alonso) threw a perfect pass, and I was able to get the and-one with the left hand and I was just super pumped."
Jones was 5-15 from the field, and finished with a game-high 18 points, her eighth double-digit scoring total this season. She also added six rebounds and four blocks. Alonso finished with four assists.
Arizona trailed 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, but held Utah State to just six points in the second quarter, allowing the Wildcats to take a 27-22 lead at the half.
James already had her double-double by then, as she recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.
"Tonight, it felt like the rebounds were kinda coming to me. They were just coming my way," James said. "There were a couple — I was like two off from a double-double — and the rebound was (near) me and (LaBrittney), and (LaBrittney) was just like 'get it, get it, get it, you're two away.' She let me get it. It was a team effort."
James led a strong offensive rebounding effort for the Wildcats, as they posted a season-high 22 second-chance points off 16 offensive rebounds.
In total, Arizona shot 41 percent from the field and Utah State shot 40 percent, and both teams had trouble knocking down shots from the perimeter. The Aggies were 1-11 from 3, while the Wildcats were 3-11.
UA freshman guard Bria Rice sank her first career triple in the first quarter.
Overall, Barnes was happy with the way her team responded from the loss to Kansas, but also acknowledged that her team has to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.
The Wildcats had nine turnovers in the first quarter, and 23 for the game, which led to 16 points for the Aggies.
"The only thing I was not happy with was the turnovers," Barnes said. "We cannot have nine turnovers in the first quarter or the first five minutes of the game and win basketball games. We can't continue to start slow...Those things are going to hurt us later. We can't wait to play basketball, especially in the Pac-12.
"So those things we have to get better at, but this a really good win for us right before Christmas. These are some of the hardest games to play."
The Wildcats return to the court Tuesday when they host Portland State in their non-conference finale. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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