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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Women’s basketball wins 61-34 in front of record-high crowd


Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Arizona forward Dejza James (31) fights for a rebound during Arizona’s 61-34 win against UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2014 in McKale Center. The victory over the Gauchos marked the Wildcats’ first win of the 2014-2015 season and first season victory since Feb. 9.

It was sloppy and at times unconventional, but the Arizona women’s basketball team secured its first victory of the season with a 61-34 win over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. In stark contrast to the first two games of the season, the Wildcats grabbed the lead early and never trailed on Tuesday.

In front of a record-high crowd of 6,268, the UA victory snapped a nine-game losing streak that dated back to Feb. 14. The previous attendance high was 5,272 against Oregon in March 2000.

The last time McKale Center saw a Wildcats win was the Feb. 9 68-49 shellacking of ASU. When asked about the losing streak after the victory, UA women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts responded in the only way she could.

“Now that you’ve pointed it out and brought it to my attention, it means an awful lot.” Butts said. “That’s a long time to go without a win. I appreciate that.”

Arizona came into the day with nine makes from 3-point land and nearly doubled that mark against UCSB. The Wildcats knocked down six shots from deep, with guard Candice Warthen accounting for three of them.

Coming into the UCSB action, Warthen was 9-35 from the field for a measly 25.7 percent. Warthen finished with a game-high 15 points and grabbed six of Arizona’s 49 total rebounds. For Warthen, her hot shooting was a far cry from her poor start to the season.

“Before the game, I was just thinking about letting the game come to me,” Warthen said. “I feel like in the previous games, I kind of forced shots and [took] shots I didn’t really like. But today, I liked all my shots today. I was just focused on letting it come to me and not doing too much.”

In a defensive performance the Arizona men’s basketball team would appreciate, the women’s team limited the Gauchos to 22.9 percent shooting from the field. UCSB’s 11 field goals tied the UA school record for fewest field goals allowed, which was set on Dec. 8, 1995, against Cal State Fullerton.

Coming into the game, opponents were scoring 66.5 points against the UA on 40.4 percent shooting.

Butts said the team’s defensive rebounding helped limit the Gauchos to one shot, effectively limiting their offense.

“[We did] a good job of rebounding the basketball, allowing them only one shot,” Butts said. “A lot of their shots were contested. If we can do a good job at that, as well as defensive rebounding, you’re probably going to have good defensive field goal percentage. For us, it’s just sticking to that.”

Up next for the Wildcats is a trip to Miami for the FIU Thanksgiving Classic. Arizona will play FIU on Friday before playing either Toledo or Virginia on Sunday. 

Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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