After 25 days of not playing a game, the University of Arizona women's basketball team beat Washington State University in McKale Center 60-52 on Friday, Jan. 7.
Before the game, Ariyah Copeland and Sam Thomas were congratulated. Copeland was recognized after scoring her 1,000th career point and Thomas for winning the Coach Wooden Citizen Cup.
Arizona started the game strong, jumping out to a 6-0 lead early on with baskets from Bendu Yeaney and Cate Reese in the first quarter. After even scoring contributions from the team Arizona ended the first quarter up 13-5.
Washington State University proved to be relentless in the game and went on a 12-1 scoring run led by Krystal Leger-Walker. Arizona struggled in the quarter and shot 4-12 from the field. Washington State led at halftime by a score of 24-23 and took the lead from Arizona for the first time in the game. Arizona’s lead scorers were Reese with nine points and Helena Pueyo with five.
After a shaky offensive start, the Wildcats bounced back in the third quarter with Thomas scoring five points and Pueyo adding six from the 3-point line. Reese also helped give Arizona the lead back while scoring five. Arizona took a 46-31 lead with a long three from Thomas as time expired in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars made life stressful for the Wildcats once again as they went on a 16-point run to bring the game within reach at 53-49 with 1:23 left in the game. They saw contributions from both of the Leger-Walker’s as they scored five each.
Reese was able to help lead the way to victory, scoring 6 points in the quarter before a foul was called on Washington State and their head coach Kamie Ethridge was given a technical foul with 24 seconds left in the game.
Thomas made three out of four free throws to extend Arizona’s lead that the Cougars were unable to overcome. In their return to the court, the Wildcats struggled with ball security, turning the ball over 15 times in the game.
“I think a lot of that's attributed not playing for a while. I think that we weren’t in, you know, game shape, which I think everybody around the league or half of the league right now is going to go into that," said head coach Adia Barnes.
Pueyo entered the starting lineup while replacing Shaina Pellington, her first start of the season.
“It's different for me. I think I'm just here like to have my team. I’m always ready, tonight I had the opportunity to do it and it was fun. I enjoyed it a lot,” Pueyo said.
It was a big night for the Wildcats as Reese entered into the top ten for career points scored and finished with 20 points. Barnes also earned her 100th win with the program, becoming the fastest coach in program history to reach this milestone.
“I came to Arizona to be an impact player, to leave a legacy, and I think that I’m doing that and I think that it’s my teammates are just finding me on the floor," Reese said.
After the game, the program honored Aari McDonald, the program's most prolific player, by inducting her into the Arizona Ring of Honor.
“Thank you for falling in love with our team, I’m forever in debt with Tucson and their fans so thank you,” McDonald said to the crowd after the ceremony.
Arizona suffered its first defeat of the season against USC by a score of 76-67 on the road Sunday at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
Cate Reese led the way for the team, scoring 29 points and six rebounds. Yeaney scored 12 points and was the only other Wildcat in double digits. The team let up 27 points in the fourth quarter to take the lead and ultimately win the game.
The Wildcats are now ranked No. 7 overall in the updated AP poll after losing to USC on Sunday. Arizona’s record is now 11-1, and they will play Oregon State in Corvallis, Oregon, at 8 p.m. MST on Thursday, Jan. 13.
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