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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats hope to even Pac-12 record against high-flying Ducks

Michelle+A.+Monroe+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat+%0A%0ANo.+5+Womens+Basketball+player+Shanita+Arnold+drives+for+a+basket.
Michelle A. Monroe
Michelle A. Monroe / Arizona Daily Wildcat No. 5 Women’s Basketball player Shanita Arnold drives for a basket.

If the Arizona women’s basketball team wants to prove that it belongs in the NCAA tournament and that its current 12-3 record is no fluke, now is the time. The Wildcats travel to Eugene, Ore., to take on the Ducks tonight at 8.

“I feel good going into this game,” head coach Niya Butts said. “We’ve prepared well over the last couple of days. We’re coming off a good weekend. I think our team grew up a lot.”

Last weekend the Wildcats split its games by defeating UCLA and losing to USC. Arizona holds a 1-2 conference record entering the Oregon trip, but Butts isn’t too worried. She said that the team is finally coming into its own, especially in crunch time.

“In our previous games we folded down the stretch,” Butts said. “We panicked, we made really bad plays and didn’t stay together as a team. But I thought this weekend we showed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness, a lot of heart. I think Shanita (Arnold)’s leadership on the floor at the end of the basketball game has been big for us.”

Arizona’s offense lives off of finding opportunities to score in transition and doing it quickly. But if the Wildcats want to handle Oregon, they will need to play even faster than they are accustomed to, especially on defense.

The Ducks rank second in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, led by senior guard Jasmin Holliday who scores an average of 15.1 points per game. But, as Butts pointed out, they only shoot 39.3 percent from the field, good for eleventh in the conference.

“Oregon, in the past — they forced us to play even faster than we like to play,” Butts said. “But we enjoy that type of a game. We just got to do a better job of knocking down our layups. They’re still not shooting a great percentage so we have to finish with rebounds, but I think the number one thing is slowing down their transition game.”

Arnold, Arizona’s starting point guard, will be a key cog in preventing Oregon’s prolific offense from running wild. She struggled to the tune of three points and three assists on 1-of-9 shooting in a loss to USC last weekend.

Arnold had 10 points and nine assists in the win over UCLA, and is averaging 7.2 assists per game over the Wildcats’ last six wins. But in their last two losses, she’s dished out just two assists per game.

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