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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats defeat Buffaloes 63-52 to snap losing streak

Ten of LaBrittney Jones’ 22 points came in the fourth quarter points and the Arizona women’s basketball team was able to pull away to defeat Colorado 63-52 and end its three-game losing streak.

“Great team win today, bouncing back from a tough one on Friday night and a tough road trip up there to the Washington schools,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “To come out and play the way we did and have everybody engaged and everybody play with high energy, that says a lot about where we are mentally and where our focus is.”

For the second straight game, it was Jones who carried the Wildcats to victory.

After scoring 19 points in the team’s loss to Utah on Friday night, she picked up right where she left off and got a basket plus the foul on the first play of the game.

However, Colorado came out of the gate strong as well, and two threes by Lauren Huggins and another by Haley Smith would put the Buffaloes up 11-5 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.

The Buffaloes would hit all four of its first quarter three-point attempts, and went 8-14 from behind the arc in the game as a whole.

“We didn’t guard the three-point line very well,” Butts said. “Our game plan was a little bit different than what you saw and we did a great job of guarding their offense and their sets, but we didn’t cover the three-point line.”

Colorado couldn’t get much else going, though. The Wildcats dominated the paint on both ends, and thanks to a 12-0 points in the paint advantage and six second chance points in the quarter, the Wildcats would head to the second quarter up 15-14, despite Colorado’s three-point barrage.

Then in the second quarter, the Wildcats would create some separation.

And and-one by Jones put the Wildcats up 20-16, then a reverse layup by Brianna Workman would eventually make it 22-17. Workman had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Back-to-back jumpers by Lauren Evans and one from Jalea Bennett would eventually put Arizona up 28-19 with 2:19 left in the half.

Unfortunately, right before halftime, Bennett would be forced to leave the game after colliding with Colorado’s Jamee Swan as the Buffaloes were pushing the ball up the court to get a shot off before the half ended.

She would return in the second half, however, and Coach Butts said after the game that Bennett is fine.

The Wildcats led 30-22 at the break, and their defense severely limited Colorado’s offense. The Buffaloes shot just 6-28 (21.4%) in the first two quarters.

But Colorado did find more success in the second half, and an 11-4 run in the third quarter allowed them to tie things up at 40, and ultimately Arizona’s once-double digit lead would be cut to two as the fourth quarter began.

The Buffaloes would then immediately take a 43-42 lead after a Huggins three, and a 48-46 lead after a jumper from Mackenzie Ellis with 7:37 left, but LaBrittney Jones took over for the Wildcats after that.

With things knotted up at 50 with about five minutes to go, Jones forced a turnover and took the ball coast-to-coast for the score. It would the first two points of a 10-0 run, in which Jones would score eight points and record a vicious block against Jamee Swan.

“I just wanted to win that game, that was my only mindset” Jones said. “We needed that stop right there and so I had to do whatever it took to get that.”

“I’m happy the way she’s playing the way she is, and we needed her to do that,” Butts said of Jones’ performance. “That gave us a huge lift.”

The run sealed the win for the Wildcats and Jones’ block was the exclamation point on what was a terrific defensive effort by the Wildcats. They held the Buffaloes to a 29.8 field goal percentage in the game, and a major reason for that is they kept Tucson-native Swan, Colorado’s leading scorer, without a made field goal.

She went 0-11 from the field, and her only two points came from the free throw line.

“We really had to focus in on her, because we know she’s from Tucson and we didn’t want her to have a big game versus us, because the last couple times she has,” Jones said of the team’s defensive effort against Swan. “As post players, that was our mindset today, and stopping a key player like that limits their team in scoring and we really needed to do that today and we did.”

The victory is Butts’ 100th of career at Arizona, and it improves the Wildcats’ record to 11-7 overall and 2-4 in the conference.

They’ll return to action next Friday in a rivalry game against No. 17 Arizona State in Tempe. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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