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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Women’s basketball aims for ‘breakthrough’ win against Oregon schools

Rebecca Noble

Arizona women’s basketball guard Charise Holloway (44) tries to block UAB forward Brittany Winborne’s (15) shot during Arizona’s 49-44 win in McKale Center on Dec. 14, 2014. Holloway returned to the Wildcats after sitting out last season.

In desperate need of a win, Arizona women’s basketball returns home to the comforts of McKale Center this weekend to take on Oregon State and Oregon.

The Wildcats (7-10) currently sit near the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference with a 0-6 conference record. In order to get out of that hole, they’ll first have to figure out how to play a full 40 minutes of attentive, focused basketball.

On Friday, there will be even less room for error than usual when the UA faces No. 8/9 Oregon State at 8 p.m. The Beavers have only one loss on the season and are undefeated in Pac-12 play.

For Arizona to pull off an upset, it will take a nearly flawless effort against an opponent with much more experience and depth.
“They’re really big,” Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts said. “They’re disciplined, and they can really shoot it from the outside. They don’t make many mistakes, and they don’t give you many opportunities to capitalize off their mistakes.”

Oregon State features three scorers in double-digits, led by Ruth Hamblin, who averages 14.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

While Butts shifted to a taller lineup last game against California, starting JaLea Bennett and Breanna Workman, Hamblin at 6-foot-6 still towers over the Wildcats.

Since Arizona doesn’t have the size to match up head-to-head with the Beavers, it must do a better job of knocking down shots while still remaining aggressive when attacking the rim.

“We have to pressure the ball, and we have to be smart,” Butts said. “We have to score when we have those opportunities, and we have to get to the foul line.”

Despite getting swept by the Bay Area schools last weekend, Butts did see some encouragement in how hard the UA played in the 12-point loss to Cal. Arizona got to the charity stripe 23 times and had arguably its best rebounding performance of the season, beating the Bears 45-42 on the glass.

“We didn’t capitalize on all those shots like I would have liked to, but I thought our energy was much better,” Butts said. “I think we were much more aggressive.”

The Wildcats would like to extend that energy throughout the weekend when they take on Oregon in a 1 p.m. Sunday start.

Like Arizona, the Ducks have struggled early on in the conference season by getting off to a 1-5 start, including four consecutive losses. Also like Arizona, Oregon has a tendency to turn the ball over.

If the UA can cut down on its mistakes, particularly when committing unforced errors on offense, this could be a manageable opponent to defeat.

Oregon does boast the nation’s second-leading rebounder in Jillian Alleyne. The junior forward isn’t even the tallest player on her team, yet she averages 15.1 rebounds per game.

However, the Ducks are not a great shooting team and also have a tendency to lapse on defense.

Playing in front of a home crowd, the game might be Arizona’s best opportunity to pick up a conference win on Sunday.


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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