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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Miscues hurt Arizona women’s basketball in season opener

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Kyle Hansen

Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts speaks to her team during Arizona’s 76-72 loss to CSU Bakersfield on Monday in McKale Center. Behind a rash of turnovers and missed opportunities, the Wildcats lost a chance for a comeback win in the season opener.

Late in the second half of Arizona women’s basketball’s 76-72 loss to Cal State Bakersfield, as the Wildcats were in the midst of a 14-0 scoring run, the team coughed up two costly turnovers. What could have been a pair of game-altering possessions turned into easy fast breaks for the Roadrunners.

All Arizona head coach Niya Butts could do was slam her hands on press row, relinquishing her frustration at the Wildcats’ inability to play fundamental basketball.

“We didn’t play well offensively, we didn’t make our shots, we didn’t execute,” UA point guard Candice Warthen said.

Over the course of a game, it’s often the little things, such as an ill-timed turnover or a missed put-back that add up and determine the outcome. On Monday, the Wildcats made far too many of those mistakes.

“When you don’t take care of the basketball and you’re not making your field goals when you get them,” Butts said, “you’re going to have a rough night.”

The errors in the second half were accentuated in part because of the hole the UA dug itself in during the first half, when the team committed 13 turnovers and allowed Bakersfield to shoot 58 percent from the field.

In a season opener against an inferior opponent, there are few excuses for why the Wildcats should have come out of the locker room so unprepared. Maybe if Arizona wasn’t coming off a pitiful five-win season, there wouldn’t be such urgency after a single loss. After all, the Wildcats battled back and did have a chance to win the game in the late-going.

However, Arizona had already plagued itself before the game even started. A handful of players sat out for disciplinary reasons, including Farrin Bell, an expected starter.

“I hope it’s loud and clear,” Butts said, “you cannot expect to go out and win and be successful when you don’t do things the right way.”

While Butts could have been referring to the game alone, she expanded her message to the team’s attitude in practice and off the court.

“Our focus wasn’t there,” Butts said. “Our focus hasn’t been there the last five days of practice. When you do that and when you get on the court and the lights come on, you just can’t turn it on.”

With a full, healthy roster, Arizona is no longer handicapped by depth the way it was last season. The issue now is getting everyone to buy into the program.

“That’s something that we’ve lacked in the past,” Warthen said. “Not only me but everybody; we need to make sure we’re having good practices. Being a leader, I know that I need to speak up, but I feel that everybody needs to be on the same page.”

The Wildcats can’t afford to get stuck on one loss, especially with a road game against Texas Tech coming up, followed by a Thanksgiving tournament in Florida.

“The good news is, it’s game one,” Butts said. “We’ve got a lot of games we’ve got left to play.”

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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