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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

National spotlight too much for W-Hoops

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Jim O’Rourke / Daily Wildcat
Jim O’Rourke / Daily Wildcat Freshman Aley Rohde

After Thursday’s game against Utah, women’s basketball coach Niya Butts described the loss as “the most disappointing outcome in (her) entire coaching career.” Butts cited the problems as a “lack of aggression” and “not having enough punch.”

Sunday’s 56-54 loss to Colorado ended with the same result but was a completely different story.

Playing before a crowd of 1,861 and in front of a national TV audience, the Wildcats showed some pizzazz and hustle against the Buffaloes, outrebounding CU 51-30 and scoring 32 points in the paint. But Arizona was unable to overcome its own turnover problem, giving the ball away 20 times. Guard Reiko Thomas said that although there was improvement, there is always more room to grow.

“We did rebound well tonight, but our turnovers cost us,” Thomas said. “We haven’t really reached our peak yet.”

Coming into the game, Arizona was ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with 13.4 offensive rebounds per game. It was also ninth in defensive rebounding, grabbing 27 boards per game.

Arizona has only three players averaging more than four rebounds per game, but against the Buffaloes, the entire starting lineup had five or more, with guard Davellyn Whyte grabbing 11. The Wildcats had 25 offensive rebounds against Colorado but were unable to capitalize, only scoring 12 second-chance points.

Two of the Wildcats’ (13-6, 2-5 Pac-12) most important players, Whyte and guard Shanita Arnold, struggled mightily from the field. The duo averages 28.5 points per game and only 6.7 turnovers, but against Colorado the powerful backcourt made only four of the 28 shots they took, scoring just 12 points and turning the ball over 11 times.

“I think some of those were not bad shots, we just didn’t hit them,” Butts said. “Some of them we could have slowed down a bit. Overall, we just didn’t knock down shots, and it was more than jump shots. We didn’t make enough plays to win the game.”

Three-point shooting was a problem throughout the game for Arizona. In the first half, the Wildcats were only able to connect on 1-of-8 shots from behind the arc before missing all five second-half attempts. The season average for Arizona has been 37.6 percent, good enough for second in the Pac-12.

“We just didn’t knock the ball down,” Butts said. “I don’t want to shoot anymore. … We took enough.”

The 3-pointer that would have changed the outcome of the game was taken with 1.7 seconds after Colorado’s Chucky Jeffery, who is third in the Pac-12, scoring 15.8 points per game, made a crucial shot in the lane to give the Buffs the lead.

The Wildcats struggled to inbound the ball, calling a timeout three times before Candice Warthen finally missed the shot short of the basket, ending the game.

“We couldn’t get the ball inbounds,” Butts said. “I’ll take a lot of the blame for that. We were trying to get something where you can really just catch and shoot the ball. Colorado was being aggressive on the ball and we didn’t want to make a turnover, we’d rather call a timeout.”

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