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The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats drop another against USC

Arizona+forward+Destiny+Graham+%2821%29+jumps+to+put+in+2+points+after+grabbing+a+rebound+against+USC+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+5.
Tom Price
Arizona forward Destiny Graham (21) jumps to put in 2 points after grabbing a rebound against USC on Friday, Feb. 5.

Courtney Jaco scored 24 points and Temi Fagbenle added 16 points and nine rebounds as the USC Trojans defeated the Arizona women’s basketball team 67-57 in McKale Center on Friday night.

“We just didn’t do enough to win,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said after the game. “We just allowed them to make too many plays, and we didn’t make enough.”

LaBrittney Jones recorded her second double-double of the season for the Wildcats, scoring 17 points and tracking down 10 boards, but it wasn’t enough for them to avoid their fifth loss in a row.

Arizona has lost eight of its last nine and is now 11-12 overall and 2-9 in the Pac-12 Conference.

The Wildcats did get out to a quick start, however, hitting four of their first five shots.

Lauren Evans dished it to a wide-open Destiny Graham under the basket, and Graham would lay it in to put the Wildcats up 10-7 in the middle of the first quarter.

Then on a few possessions later, Graham would grab an offense rebound and put the ball back up and in to make it 12-7 UA with 2:24 left in the quarter.

The Wildcats’ early lead would in part to a stifling defense and aggressiveness on the glass. They would outrebound the Trojans 12-5 in the first quarter, while holding them to 4-of-12 shooting.

Courtney Jaco would drain a 3-pointer right before the buzzer, though, and Arizona would only find itself up by two heading into the second quarter.

From that point on, it was all USC.

Jaco would score ten second-quarter points, including a steal and a bucket, plus a 3-pointer to cap a 14-4 USC run that would put it up 24-16 with five minutes left in the half. Jaco would hit four 3’s in the game.

“We weren’t guarding the 3-point line, she hit a couple of threes, and we just weren’t getting out there,” Jones said of Jaco’s performance. “We just weren’t getting out the pressuring the ball like we practiced. That’s on us, we have to execute.”

The Trojans’ lead continued to grow and they’d take a 31-20 lead at halftime, outscoring the Wildcats 21-8 in the second quarter.

“We allowed them back into the game in the first quarter and from there it was trying to play catch,” Butts said.

USC would take a 15-point lead early in the second half, its largest of the game, but then UA would go on a 7-0 run of its own. LaBrittney Jones cut the deficit to ten with a layup, then she’d grab a rebound in traffic on the other end and throw an outlet pass to Keyahndra Cannon, who finished in transition to make it 37-29 with 5:17 left in the third.

Jones held her own against Fagbenle, one of the premier post players in the Pac-12.

“She’s a good player, I was looking forward to that matchup,” Jones said. “She’s kinda tall, she’s got a height advantage over us, but I think for the most part we did an okay job against her, but we definitely could be better.”

It would remain an eight-point game heading into the final quarter, but USC would use a strong fourth-quarter performance to put the Wildcats away.

Fagbenle and Jaco would start the quarter off with a lay-in and a 3-pointer, respectively, to put USC back up by 13.

Arizona would cut the deficit to eight points three different times in the fourth quarter, but it just couldn’t get the stops needed to make a late run.

“Whether it was man or zone, we just didn’t do enough defensively.” Butts said. “Our one-on-one defense has to be better, our team defense has to be better, we just have to be more disciplined and play without fouling.”

Offensively, the Wildcats had success crashing the offensive glass, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds, but other than that it was a struggle.

Arizona shot 37.7 percent from the field, 0-9 from behind the arc, and turned the ball over 21 times in the process.

“We got on the glass, we outrebounded them, and did a really good job, but we gave it right back to them with the 21 turnovers,” Butts said. “And we didn’t score. We got to be able to knock down some of those shots and we didn’t do that.”

Starting point guard Malena Washington was held to just two points, had six of the team’s turnovers, and failed to record an assist.

“I expected her to play better,” Butts said. “She just had some bad turnovers out there, but we didn’t do much to pick [her] up, in terms of our entire team.”

The Wildcats will look to snap their five-game losing streak Sunday against No.21 UCLA in McKale Center.

Tipoff is at 1 p.m.

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