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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s basketball hosts Bay Area schools

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Jordan Glenn

Arizona women’s basketball guard Candice Warthen (1) hits a shot over Oregon’s defense during Arizona’s 81-78 OT win against Oregon in McKale Center on Jan. 25. Warthen and the Wildcats host the Bay Area schools this weekend.

After a disappointing road trip to the mountain schools, Arizona women’s basketball will try to turn things around this weekend as it plays host to Cal and Stanford.

The Wildcats currently sit at the bottom of the Pac-12 conference with a 1-9 record in league play and 8-13 overall record. Two of those losses have come against the Bears and the Cardinal, which each defeated the UA by double digits last month.
Now the two Bay Area schools travel to McKale Center where they will take on an Arizona team coming off a pair of rough losses to Utah and Colorado last weekend.

“We had a total lapse,” women’s head coach Niya Butts said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do on the boards at all, and we weren’t physical on the box-outs. We allowed too many second-chance opportunities, and ultimately, I think that was the difference [in both losses].”

Those issues came against two of the bottom feeders of the conference. Cal and Stanford meanwhile are among the Pac-12’s best, meaning the Wildcats will have to play with even more diligence if they are going to compete.

In practice this week, Arizona emphasized being more aggressive crashing the boards and playing tighter perimeter defense.

“I feel like we’ve had a solid couple days of practice,” Arizona guard Candice Warthen said. “I think we’ll bounce back better defensively and with rebounding.”

On Friday, the Wildcats open up the home stand by taking on Cal in a 7 p.m. start.

The Bears sit fourth in the conference with an 8-2 league record and enter the meeting on a five-game winning streak.

Cal is one of the better shooting teams in the conference with a .456 clip from the field. Bears guard Brittany Boyd spearheads the offense with 7.9 assists per game, tied for the second-most nationally.

Arizona held its own for much of the first meeting in Berkeley, Calif., but Cal pulled away down the stretch. Despite being at a major height disadvantage, the Wildcats were physical and attacked the basket ­— drawing 23 fouls in the 68-56 defeat. 

While the outcome didn’t go the UA’s way, Butts believes there is a lot the team can draw on in preparation and watching film.

“It always helps when you’re seeing an opponent for the second time,” Butts said. “You know what to expect, you can watch your previous game, kind of learn and grow from that.”

Sunday afternoon, an even bigger test awaits the Wildcats as they take on No. 12 ranked Stanford. The UA designated the matchup as a “Pink Game” in awareness of cancer, and pom poms and sneaker keychains will be handed out to the first 500 fans in attendance.

The Cardinal, 9-1 in the Pac-12, doesn’t dominate opponents as in years past but still poses a significant challenge with its depth and size.
In the early meeting in Palo Alto, Calif., Stanford controlled virtually every aspect of the game in a 30-point win.

For Arizona to be competitive in either game, the Wildcats must lock down shooters as well as capitalize on their own good looks.
“We just have to be ready to play,” Butts said. “The good news is we’re at home in front of our fans.”

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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