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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball: Wildcats prepare for first road game against George Mason

Simon Asher

Arizona women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes gives a pep talk to her team before media day on Oct. 10, 2016. The Wildcats were picked to finish dead last in the Pac-12.

Coming off a season-opening victory against Alcorn State, the Arizona women’s basketball team (1-0) will look to extend its winning streak to two games on Friday when it takes on George Mason (2-1) of the Atlantic 10 Conference in Fairfax, Virginia.

It’s the Wildcats’ first road game of the season — and Adia Barnes’ first as Arizona’s head coach — but the team’s day-to-day approach won’t change even if the team’s itinerary will.

“The preparation is the same. You’re always prepared and it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared. I think it’s just a business trip, it’s a road trip, it’s not vacation and we’re going to approach everything we do the same,” Barnes said. ”We’re going to focus on the little things, getting better daily, and you don’t change a lot. Nothing will be different except that it’s on the road and it’ll be fun.”

Barnes believes that being on the road can actually help a team stay focused on the game ahead.

“I think this is a good group that enjoys spending time together and it’s a fun group and it’s a great group of young women, so on the road…I think sometimes you tend to be more focused because you don’t have all those distractions here — your friends, family,” Barnes said. “On the road it’s just the team, so sometimes I think I like being on the road more too.”

The Wildcats beat Alcorn State 74-59 on Sunday, when UA forward LaBrittney Jones led the team with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Freshman point guard Lucia Alonso and senior guard Malena Washington also scored in double figures, posting 10 points and 13 points, respectively.

Arizona shot 41.7 percent as a team and outrebounded the Braves 54-43, but missed several layups and committed 24 turnovers against Alcorn State’s press defense. Improving in those areas were points of emphasis for the Wildcats in practice this week. 

“I’m excited to see if we’re going to apply the things we were working on this week into the game,” Barnes said.

George Mason had a 13-19 record in the 2015-16 season, going 6-10 in the Atlantic 10. Last season, Arizona beat George Mason 68-60 in overtime in Tucson.

The Patriots have won two of their first three games this season, and return four starters from a year ago, including Kara Wright.

Wright, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward, is averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The redshirt senior is shooting 59.4 percent from the field and has connected of six of her 12 3-point attempts this season.

Unlike Alcorn State, which plays an aggressive style of basketball, looking to press on defense and run in transition on offense, George Mason presents a different challenge.

“They’re very different than Alcorn,” Barnes said of the Patriots. ”They’re going to play a lot of 3-2 (zone). They like to walk the ball up the court, they don’t have transition (offense), so it’s very different. So, as a team how can we adjust? One day we’re playing against an overly-aggressive team and then we’re playing against a team that slows it down, so it’s a good test for us.”

Ideally, Barnes wants to exit the road trip with a win but, at minimum, she wants to continue seeing her team improve from game to game.

“I want us to grow every game,” the first-year head coach said. “I see potential in so many areas, but the positive thing I see is last year [Arizona] didn’t score a lot of points. (This year) we haven’t ran great offense, and we’re scoring 76 points.”

Tipoff against George Mason, initially scheduled for 5 p.m., is now set for 3 p.m. You can listen to the game on 1400 AM in Tucson.

You can follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.

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