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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona defeats Western New Mexico 77-48 in Adia Barnes’ head coaching debut

Simon Asher

The Adia Barnes era unofficially began with a victory.

The Arizona women’s basketball team defeated Western New Mexico 77-48 in an exhibition Tuesday night in McKale Center in Barnes’ head coaching debut with the Wildcats.

Four Wildcats — LaBrittney Jones, Dejza James, Farrin Bell, and Destiny Graham — scored in double figures, and James recorded a double-double, grabbing 13 rebounds.

“I think it went well for us to be our first game, new coaches and all new changes,” Jones said. “We still have a lot of things we have to work on, but for the first game out, I thought it was good.”

Barnes thought her team was nervous leading up to the game.

“It’s new, it’s a new (coaching) staff, they want to impress, they want to do the right thing, and so at one point I was like ‘everybody relax’,” Barnes said. “But I think they’re having a good time and we did some good things.”

Barnes, a UA alumna who was hired in April, wasn’t nervous, but she was certainly amped to make her head coaching debut.

“I was excited, I’m a gamer,” Barnes said. “It reminded me of first game of my different pro careers…you have the adrenaline. The difference is as a player you get to release that. You can get out there and elbow someone or get a rebound. As a coach you can only control so much, so there was adrenaline and the excitement of it’s new, it’s fun.”

After trading baskets to begin the game, Arizona rattled off 20 unanswered points to take a 20-6 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back in the wire-to-wire victory.

The Wildcats out-rebounded the Lady Mustangs 55-21, had a 38-13 edge in points in the paint, and had 30 second chance points.

“A lot of it was effort on the boards and we weren’t playing a tall team,” Barnes said. “A lot of those rebounds we wouldn’t have gotten so easily against a taller team, but we had the advantage inside for sure.”

Jones and Graham combined for 13 points in the first quarter, then Bell added 10 second-quarter points, helping the Wildcats jump out to a 37-18 halftime lead.

Bell finished with 13 points, which would have been a career-high if it weren’t an exhibition, while Jones and Graham finished with 15 points and 13 points, respectively.

Bell, Jones and Graham all shot 4-8 from the field.

“It’s great to see us in game situations just to see how we react and try some different things and just to learn from it,” Barnes said. “We can learn from this and there were a lot of good teaching moments. What’s really cool about it is you get to implement things and see what works and what doesn’t work. I think the girls are having a great time and the players are running some different things, but I saw a lot of good things tonight.”

Western New Mexico shot just 34 percent from the field, including shooting just 14.3 percent in the first half.

The Wildcats outscored the Lady Mustangs 40-30 in the second half, in which UA guard Malena Washington scored all six of her points and recorded all five of her assists.

Washington, usually a starter, came off the bench for disciplinary reasons, Barnes said after the game. Meanwhile, Taryn Griffey, Brianna Workman, and Jalea Bennett missed the game with injuries.

Arizona returns to action Sunday for its regular season opener against Alcorn State. 

Tipoff in McKale Center is set for 2 p.m.

You can follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter

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