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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s basketball faces big challenge in Demon Deacons

Ryan+Revock+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+freshman+forward+Breanna+Workman+guards+against+Fort+Lewis+on+Nov.+2+at+the+McKale+Center.
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA freshman forward Breanna Workman guards against Fort Lewis on Nov. 2 at the McKale Center.

The Arizona women’s basketball team has a quick turnaround after losing to the University of the Pacific on Saturday. The Wildcats (1-4) will match up against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-2) today at 11 a.m. at McKale Center. The game will be streamed live on pac-12.com.

The Wildcats are coming off two consecutive close losses in which Pacific and Stephen F. Austin made comebacks to stun Arizona. On the other hand, the Demon Deacons just blew out Radford on Friday by a score of 92-65.

Wake Forest presents a considerable challenge, as it will have a noticeable size advantage in this game. It has five players on its roster that are 6-foot-3, which is five more than Arizona has on its roster. The tallest Arizona player is 6-foot-2 senior forward Erica Barnes, and she most likely won’t play big minutes as she’s returning from a concussion that kept her out of the first four games of the season.

That puts a lot of pressure on freshman forwards LaBrittney Jones, Dejza James and Breanna Workman. Each stands 6-foot-1 but will need to play bigger if the team wants to be competitive both in the paint and in rebounding.

Keeping teams off the glass has been a consistent battle for Arizona in the first five games of the season. The Wildcats are averaging 36.2 total rebounds per game so far but have struggled to limit offensive rebounds for their opponents. In the last two games alone they gave up nine offensive boards to Stephen F. Austin and 12 to Pacific.

Giving up offensive rebounds not only lengthens each defensive possession, but generally gives the opponent a favorable shot near the basket. More often than not those easy shots equal easy scores or free throw opportunities for the opposition, both of which fall into the category of second chance points.

Second chance points can demoralize a defense and invigorate a struggling offense. This is something the Wildcats have to figure out before Pac-12 play, when teams will feast off their mistakes. Arizona gave up 10 second chance points to Pacific on Saturday. That number should rise significantly by the time they play Stanford or Oregon.

Securing rebounds is the final measure of defensive stops, and each and every defensive rebound will be key for Arizona as the Demon Deacons average 17.4 offensive rebounds per game. Those rebounds help key an offense that has three players score at least 19 points per game.

Senior guard Chelsea Douglas (23.2), freshman guard Kelila Atkinson (20.0) and junior forward Dearica Hamby (19.2) each contribute considerable offensive production to their team. To put that in perspective, junior guard Candice Warthen leads the Wildcats in scoring at 17.4 points per game.

The Wildcats’ next game is back on the road as they take on BYU on Saturday in Provo, Utah, at 2 p.m. MST.

— Follow Roberto Payne @RPsportreporter

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