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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Sluggish ’Cats fall to Utes in OT

Shanita+Arnold
Keith Hickman-Perfetti
Shanita Arnold

Prior to the Wildcats’ game Thursday night against Utah in McKale Center, women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts stressed two things that would dictate whether or not Arizona won: rebounding and defense.

The Wildcats lost the rebounding battle in the first half 27-19, and were outrebounded 46-37 for the game. Arizona was unable to overcome the margin, and the Wildcats lost 65-60 in overtime.

“All we stress is playing defense and rebounding,” said sophomore guard Candice Warthen, who played in her first game since Dec. 3. “We had one offensive rebound in the first half. We need to do better; it’s a big deal. We know we’re better than that.”

Arizona (13-5, 2-4 Pac-12) guard Davellyn Whyte led all scorers with 32 points. At halftime, Whyte had 14 of Arizona’s 18 points, which helped to offset the team shooting only 28.6 percent from the floor. Butts said the biggest problem wasn’t the lack of scoring; it was the lack of energy.

“Overall it was a bad game, and this one hurts, this is a disappointing one for us because we played with such a lack of energy,” Butts said. “It bothers me that we were in overtime. Our lack of aggressiveness and pride in our defense kept us from winning the game in regulation.”

The one thing that was saving the Wildcats down the stretch was Utah’s poor shooting. In the first five minutes of the second half, Arizona shot 75 percent, while Utah struggled, shooting just 37.5 percent. Despite the disparity in shooting, the Utes were still in the game due to their rebounding led by center Taryn Wicijowski, who ended with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

In the waning moments of regulation, Whyte was able to hit a 3-pointer to keep the game tied. Utah was unable to convert their opportunity in the final three seconds, which sent the game into overtime.

In the overtime period, the Wildcats’ lack of energy came back to bite them.

“In overtime, when you don’t have energy and you’re not playing with that much passion, things like that are going to happen,” Butts said. “We just didn’t have enough punch to step in there and fight through whatever we were feeling to get the win.”

Whyte and starting point guard Shanita Arnold each played a season-high 44 minutes. After the game, Whyte said the increase in minutes didn’t faze her.

“Of course I was tired. Adrenaline was so high, I wasn’t worried about being tired,” Whyte said. “I was worried about getting stops and trying to win the game. We didn’t take care of home court tonight.”

Going forward, Butts knows exactly what Arizona needs to do if it wants to start winning games.

“Wake up,” she said. “Otherwise you’re going to look up and half of Pac-12 play will be half over and we can’t allow these games to keep getting away from us.”

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