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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UCLA thwarts Arizona women’s basketball upset bid; Barnes upset with effort from ‘Cats

Mujtaba Alsadeq

Arizona guard Lucia Alonso (4) protects the ball from UCLA guard Jordin Canada (3) during the women’s basketball game on Feb. 24 in McKale Center.

Arizona women’s basketball took their turn against UCLA Friday night in McKale, but despite needing a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, fell flat against No. 15 UCLA, 79-56.

The Wildcats came out slow in the first half, shooting 33 percent and committing nine turnovers. Seniors LaBrittney Jones and Malena Washington combined for 5-for-17 shooting and 12 of the 23 Wildcat points as Arizona went into the half down 36-23.

“One thing I’m not going to have and that’s not going to be in this program is players that don’t compete, don’t play hard when they’re on the floor, don’t get the 50/50 balls,” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “We’re not a top-20 team that can’t not get 50/50 balls. So my expectation is you dive on the floor, you play hard, you can make a mistake, but then you better go hard doing it or I’m just not going to tolerate that.”

UCLA’s athleticism and size was too much for Arizona to handle, especially in transition. Center Monique Billings and guard Jordin Canada combined for 18 first half points, but it was on the defensive end where the two made most of their impact. The Wildcats consistently tried to take the ball to the basket and challenge the Bruin defenders without success, many times passing up wide open jump shots in favor of turning the ball over off erratic shot attempts.

“I think we weren’t aggressive enough, I think we were a little intimidated by their height,” said senior forward Dejza James. 

In the second half it was no different.

Canada was able to find holes in the Wildcats defense and finished with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with four assists. Canada’s tempo and quick play was a mismatch for every Wildcat defender. 

If it wasn’t Canada, it was Nicole Kornet who found her stroke from the outside and hammering the Wildcats on the boards, Kornet finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Canada and Kornet were efficient as well, combining for 42 points on 14-of-25 shooting, including 4-for-10 from three.

“We knew she [Kornet] could shoot the three, we weren’t getting out there fast enough as a team,” Jones said.

Once again the Wildcats contributed to their own demise, turning the ball over 19 times which led to 26 Bruin points. Couple that with a 45-33 rebound margin and 22 second chance points and the mountain was too much to overcome against a formidable UCLA team.

“That’s disappointing for me as a coach,” Barnes said. “… The thing that’s heavy on my heart is that you don’t let those opportunities go by.”

LaBrittney Jones did her part to try and turn the momentum for Arizona, finishing with 26 points and seven rebounds. But it was too little, too late for a Wildcat team desperate to finish with a .500 record and qualify for postseason play. The Wildcats will now have to win three of their next four in order to avoid a losing season, currently they sit at 13-15 on the year.

The Wildcats will return to McKale one final time on Sunday for their season finale against USC on Senior Day. Tip is set for 2 p.m. 

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