The Arizona women’s basketball team opened the 2019-20 regular season with a record-setting night as they dominated the University of North Dakota on their way to a 74-42 win.
The ‘Cats were able to jump out to an 18-point halftime lead after playing exceptional defense, holding the Fighting Hawks to just 26% from the field while forcing 16 turnovers.
Even with a solid defensive performance, Head Coach Adia Barnes still believes there are areas for improvement.
“I thought we played good defense at times,” Barnes said. “We jumped at a lot of things, bailing them out and putting them on the line 19 times. I don’t like contested shots so you’ll see us with a better shot selection and hopefully a little bit better transition defense.”
It was a record opening night for attendance, as 3,450 fans came out to McKale Center as the Wildcats and the city of Tucson continue to build off of last years WNIT championship.
“It’s great to hear, we’ve really been trying to get the Tucson community to back us,” said senior forward Dominique McBryde. “I think last year really helped a lot with the WNIT being at home, getting more fans and it helps us win.”
The record attendance is something Barnes has been working towards since she was hired in 2016.
“It tells me we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “The most fun is the climb, getting better and getting to the top.”
Arizona’s size seemed to be the determining factor for their offensive attack as they dominated around the basket, outscoring North Dakota 44-16 in the paint.
The attack was led by sophomore forward Cate Reese. On her birthday night, Reese lit up the scoreboard with a career-high 22 points, six rebounds and five steals.
“I think she can get 20 points and 10 rebounds every night,” Barnes said. “She’s a lot stronger finishing, more confident, just a little bit more efficient and has improved her outside shot, which we didn’t even see tonight.”
The ‘Cats are slated to host Santa Clara on Friday, Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. before hitting the road for matchups at Chicago State and Texas next week.
Follow Ray Diaz on Twitter