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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona women’s basketball takes on Grambling State

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Kyle Hansen

Arizona women’s basketball guard Candice Warthen dribbles upcourt during Arizona’s 76-72 loss to CSU Bakersfield in McKale Center on Nov. 17. After losing in the championship game of the FIU Thanksgiving Classic, Warthen and the Wildcats take on Grambling on Wednesday.

Arizona women’s basketball returns home to face Grambling State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

The Wildcats (2-3) are coming off a trip to Miami where they went 1-1 in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic. After picking up its second win of the season against FIU, the UA lost the championship match to Toledo.

“We just have to be better,” UA women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts said. “We’ve put ourselves in some tough situations at the end of games, but I think through film and time on the court, showing the team where we’re making errors at, hopefully we’ll fix those. We’ve got to take it one game at a time, and against Grambling, we have to be ready.”

Grambling State, 2-4 on the season, shouldn’t pose as much of a much of a test. The Tigers have allowed opponents to score an average of 81.2 points against them and were most recently blown out by Georgia Tech 97-64.

While the Wildcats likely won’t have much trouble, they will look to improve their shooting and cut out stretches of inconsistent play.

After all, each of Arizona’s three losses can be traced to turnovers and missed opportunities to come up with key scores.

“We need to be tougher,” forward Alli Gloyd said. “When we get into difficult spots, we can’t fold.”

Through five games, the UA is averaging 15.6 turnovers per game, while dishing out just 10.8 assists. While it’s excusable for any team to look sloppy at times early in the season, Butts is ready to turn the corner.

“Our execution has to be better,” Butts said. “We have to be solid on defense consistently. Some games, we’re very good, and some games, we lose our focus a little bit. Basketball is a game of runs, but we have had six or seven possessions when you come up empty off.”

On offense, the Wildcats have been plagued with dry spells when opponents force them to settle for jump shots. As a team, the UA is making 36 percent of its field goals and only 27 percent from behind the arc.

“We have to make easy baskets,” Butts said. “We need to get the ball inside the paint and make those layups. It’ll make everything much easier for us.”

A balanced attack has allowed for seven Wildcats to average five or more points per game, including solid contributions from some of the younger players. Perhaps most surprising, freshman guard Charise Holloway has cracked the starting lineup.

“They’re doing very well,” point guard Candice Warthen said. “The further into the season we get, the better they are. They get better at practice and in the games, so they’re adjusting very well.”

Warthen is the team’s leading scorer with 12.6 points per game while Keyahndra Cannon and LaBrittney Jones are not far behind.

Against Grambling State, scoring shouldn’t be much the problem. Rather, Arizona’s emphasis will be to play fundamentally sound basketball by limiting turnovers and preventing any long lapses on defense.

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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