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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona WBB returns home to face Washington State and Washington

Jay Corella
Jalyn Brown of the ASU Sun Devils keeps the ball away from the Wildcats’ defense during their game in McKale Center on Feb. 4. The Sun Devils only tied the lead once, before the point gap began to widen.

The Arizona women’s basketball team returns home after a challenging week in California, suffering back-to-back losses against No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 USC. Arizona (12-12, 4-8 in Pac-12) is preparing to take on Washington State University (15-10, 4-8 in Pac-12) on Friday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m., followed by a matchup against the University of Washington (13-10, 3-9) on Sunday, Feb. 18, at noon. Having encountered difficulties in road games against ranked opponents, Arizona aims to rebound in McKale Center, where the Wildcats hold an 8-3 record this season.

Washington State enters the upcoming matchup on a four-game losing streak, with three of those losses against ranked opponents. In their most recent game, the Cougars fell to former No. 6 Stanford University on Sunday, Feb. 11, with a final score of 73-58. Similarly, Washington is currently on a four-game losing streak, with three of its last four losses also against ranked opponents. The Huskies’ most recent loss was on Sunday, Feb. 11, against the University of California, Berkeley, ending 59-57 in favor of the Golden Bears.

Game 1: Washington State — Friday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m.

History vs. Washington State

The upcoming matchup marks the 74th meeting between the Arizona women’s basketball team and Washington State. In their most recent meeting on Jan. 21, the Wildcats fell to the Cougars, 78-57. Despite this recent loss, Arizona maintains an overall advantage in the all-time series, leading 40-33. Over the last 10 meetings between these programs, the competition has been evenly matched, resulting in a 5-5 split.

It’s worth noting that the dynamics of the game undergo a significant shift when the Wildcats play at home. In McKale Center, Arizona holds a 22-15 all-time record against Washington State. Notably, this season, despite the Wildcats’ less-than-impressive record, they have proven to be a completely different team when playing at home. Unlike the last meeting between these teams when Arizona was on the road, the upcoming game offers the Wildcats the advantage of their home court, setting the stage for a favorable outcome as they aim to end their recent skid.

Washington State’s season

Since their last meeting, Washington State has faced a tough six-game stretch, resulting in a 1-5 record. The Cougars’ sole victory came against former No. 2 UCLA in an 85-82 nail-biter on Sunday, Jan. 28. However, the team grappled with losses to former No. 11 USC, former No. 6 University of Colorado, Boulder, former No. 20 University of Utah, California and Stanford.

Heading into the upcoming game against Arizona, freshman guard Eleonora Villa has emerged as a player to watch for the Cougars. In their last six games, Villa showcased impressive play, averaging 15.5 points while shooting 52.3% from the field and 41% from three. Despite Washington State’s overall struggles, Villa’s standout performance provides a glimmer of hope and offensive firepower for the Cougars as they aim to end their four-game losing streak. Junior guard Tara Wallack is the second player to watch for the Cougars. Wallack averaged 13.8 points while shooting 40.2% from the field and 37.2% from three during this stretch. Both of these players’ consistent contributions will be crucial for Washington State as they look to push past Arizona and secure a much-needed victory.

Game 2: Washington — Sunday, Feb. 18, at noon

History vs. Washington   

Arizona and Washington are set to face each other for the 72nd time in the upcoming matchup. The teams met earlier this season on Jan. 19, with the Huskies securing a narrow 62-60 victory, breaking Arizona’s seven-game winning streak against Washington. Despite that fact, the Huskies, with this win, added to their already substantial all-time series lead, which is now at 44-27.

While Arizona does have a 7-3 record in the last 10 matchups, it’s more noteworthy to look at the overall home record against Washington, which stands at an even split of 18-18. The previous meeting between these teams occurred on the road for the Wildcats, but historically, the Huskies have demonstrated that they are able to hold their own even when playing on the road against the Wildcats.

However, this season is a different story, given Arizona’s impressive home record and Washington’s 3-4 record on the road. This particular aspect of the game favors Arizona in the upcoming matchup between these teams.

Washington’s season

Since the last meeting with Arizona, Washington has faced a challenging seven-game stretch, resulting in a 1-6 record. The Huskies experienced a mix of defeats against formidable opponents, beginning with a loss to ASU on Sunday, Jan. 21, falling 73-63 to the Sun Devils. Then, they went on to get blown out by UCLA on Friday, Jan. 26, with a final score of 62-44. Despite the struggles, the Huskies managed to secure a victory against  USC on Sunday, Jan. 28, with a close 62-59 win over the Trojans. However, they would go on to lose to Utah, Colorado, Stanford and California, and they will be meeting ASU for the second time this season on Friday, Feb. 16, before they face Arizona once again.

In the upcoming game against Arizona, junior forward Dalayah Daniels is the player to watch for the Huskies. In their seven-game stretch, Daniels averaged 10.7 points and eight rebounds per game, showcasing her ability to be a major contributor despite going up against consistent high-level competition. While her scoring efficiency dipped, Daniels remains the second-leading scorer for the Huskies this season, averaging 11.7 points on 44.6% shooting from the field and leading the team in rebounds at 7.1 per game. Alongside her is senior forward Lauren Schwartz, the second player to watch in this matchup. Schwartz is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 10.8 ppg on 41.% from the field, but she averaged 10.1 points during this stretch on 32% shooting from the field. As the Huskies prepare to face Arizona, both Daniels and Schwartz’s performances will be key to Washington ending its recent skid.

Wildcats to watch 

Having returned to the Wildcats’ lineup, sophomore guard Kailyn Gilbert had a notable week in last week’s games, once again showcasing her scoring prowess despite the team falling short in both matchups. In the first game against UCLA, Gilbert played for 16 minutes, scoring 14 points, the second-highest point total on the team, and shot an impressive 50% from the field. In the next matchup against USC, although her performance wasn’t as outstanding, Gilbert still contributed 11 points in 19 minutes, once again securing the second-highest point total for the team, albeit shooting 28% from the field. Despite her brief absence, Gilbert maintains her status as the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, and she currently ranks second in both rebounds (5.6) and assists (2.5). With Gilbert back in action, the Wildcats are positioned nicely to end their recent skid.

Another key player to watch for the Wildcats is fifth-year forward Esmery Martinez, who has consistently been a positive force for the Wildcats despite the team not securing desired results. In both matchups against UCLA and USC, Martinez led the team in both scoring and rebounding, delivering a commendable performance with 16 points and eight rebounds against the Bruins and 13 points and seven rebounds against the Trojans. Martinez’s continued high-level play will be crucial in complementing Gilbert’s contributions as they strive to lead the team to victory in this week’s games.

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