Arizona women's basketball looks to build on season-opening win
University of Arizona Women’s basketball forward Sam Thomas at the game against Eastern New Mexico on October 27. UA won the game 85-38.
Arizona took care of business in its season opener on Tuesday, crushing North Dakota 74-42. The Wildcats looked as sharp as promised during their off-season hype. If they want to break into the top 25, they must continue their stellar play as they host Santa Clara on Friday night.
Everyone seems to be expecting nothing less than a breakout year for sophomore Cate Reese, who was Pac-12 All-Freshman last year, setting a freshman record by playing and starting in all 37 games. Not only did she prove her durability, but she also was extremely productive, as she averaged 11.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. Coming off 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals in her performance in the season opener, it is clear that Reese is one of the first options and one of the leaders of the team. It should be interesting to see how the team chemistry develops in the early season and how other key players fulfill their expectations, such as juniors Aari McDonald and Sam Thomas.
Santa Clara is coming off a 109-51 blowout win in their season opener against UC Santa Cruz. Junior forward Merle Wiehl will be leading the way for the Broncos this season, as she had 18 points and 6 rebounds in their season opener. Santa Clara will rely heavily upon their young players this season, such as sophomore Lexie Pritchard and freshman Ashlee Maldonado. Although these talented players, along with others on the team, lack experience, the talent is there for the Broncos. For them, it is all about finding their identity early in the season. Last year, the team went 14-17 (6-12 in conference), ultimately missing the big dance. A huge reason for their disappointing season was shooting only 30.2% from three, a part of the game they intend to improve if they want to compete.
The Wildcats have the talent and experience to improve off their 24-13 (7-11 in conference) season last year, and it all starts with playing well in the early part of the year.
The game is Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the McKale Center.
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