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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats look for different result against SoCal schools with return of injured guard

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women’s basketball team begins the final stretch of its season tonight, taking on USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. The USC contest is one of three games remaining before the start of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament, and head coach Niya Butts is optimistic about the near future.

“I thought we played well and did a lot of good things,” Butts said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. Hopefully, we’ll go to LA and come back happy.”

The last time the two teams faced, guard Candice Warthen was sidelined with an ankle injury. At the time, she was averaging 16.8 points per game to go along with 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals. Arizona (14-13, 3-12 Pac-12) sorely missed her contribution and fell to the Trojans 72-67.

Since her Jan. 19 return, Warthen has been a shell of her former self. She attributes this to the confidence she lost to her injury, but has the plan to change.

“I am 100 percent healthy,” Warthen said. “I just want to go out and do my job, play good defense and take good shots. Confidence is my biggest problem since I’ve been back. I just need to play with confidence and do whatever it takes to help my team.”

Warthen, along with the rest of the team, can gather some confidence from the recent play of leading scorer Davellyn Whyte and freshman three-point machine Erin Butler.

Whyte, who averages 17.3 points per game on the season, was in a shooting slump during the Wildcats’ eight-game losing streak. But the junior returned to form against Washington State, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, in arguably the team’s best performance of the season.

“We need to put everything together,” Whyte said. “Some games, we’ll rebound well, some games we’ll pass the ball around well, we’ll score, we just need to put everything together.”

Butler is a huge contributor to Arizona’s 35.9 percent 3-point shooting, which is best in the Pac-12. When she has been able to provide a spark, such as her 23-point performance against Oregon or her 21 points against Washington State — a game in which she shot 8-11 from the field and 5-8 from beyond the arc — the Wildcats have almost been untouchable.

Warthen said the Wildcats’ energy will not be a problem as urgency sets in during the fight for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament.

“It’s really important to come out with energy,” she said. “Usually, when we come out with energy, the results are good. We just need to come out from the tip playing hard. We have to keep our heads up even when we’re down.”

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