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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Crucial road test awaits Arizona women’s basketball

Angeline Carbajal

Arizona women’s basketball forward Alli Gloyd (30) and Stanford forward Bonnie Samuelson (41) struggle for a rebound during Arizona’s 60-57 win against Stanford in McKale Center on Feb. 8. Gloyd and the Wildcats take on USC and UCLA over the weekend.

Arizona women’s basketball continues its longest road trip of the season this weekend as the team travels to Los Angeles to play USC and UCLA.

The Wildcats (9-16, 2-12 Pac-12 Conference) are coming off a pair of double-digit losses to the Oregon schools last weekend that moved the team into a tie for last place in the conference standings.

With the Pac-12 Tournament only a couple weeks away, the UA desperately needs at least one win on the Southern California trip to improve its chances of earning a higher seed.

“Obviously, being on the road for the second weekend in a row isn’t ideal,” Arizona coach Niya Butts said. “It’s certainly something that all teams in the conference will have to face at one point, so we just have to be ready to play. [USC and UCLA] are in a situation where they want to win just like we want to win, so you know their players are going to be focused.”

On Friday night, the Wildcats open up the trip by taking on USC at the Galen Center. The Trojans have muddled to a 6-8 conference record but are coming off an impressive double-digit defeat at Cal.

USC leads the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding, which could spell trouble for Arizona. The UA boasts a -6.6 rebounding margin in conference play and was outrebounded 48-22 in its last outing against Oregon State.

“Luckily, this weekend, we are playing against some teams that are equally our size so that should be a little bit better,” Arizona forward Alli Gloyd said. “We just have to make sure that we get our body on them and drive at them consistently.”

With neither team shooting the ball well going into Friday, second-chance points and put-backs could be an X-factor. The Wildcats also need to do a better job from the charity stripe, where they have struggled in their past few losses.

Arizona closes out the road series on Sunday afternoon when it travels to Pauley Pavilion to face UCLA. The Bruins are also 6-8 in Pac-12 play.

While UCLA has also had trouble shooting the ball consistently, guard Kari Korver could give the Wildcats trouble. Arizona had one of the nation’s better perimeter defenses in nonconference play but is allowing Pac-12 opponents to shoot 36 percent from outside.

“We definitely need to be more focused defending around the 3-point line,” Gloyd said. “We have to come out and make sure we are mentally prepared for it and do exactly what we do in practice: close out with high hands and be ready to play the drive.”

Offensively, guard Candice Warthen continues to be the Wildcats’ go-to scorer, while forward LaBrittney Jones has steadily increased her production over the season. The UA has also received strong play from Breanna Workman down low.

When the Wildcats do lock down on defense, the offense usually provides enough support to keep the team in it. The battle is to play tough defense for 40 minutes.

“We need to know what we have to do with the scouting report defense-wise and make sure that we’re disciplined and contest all shots,” Butts said.


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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