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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball ready for home opener against Howard

Jesus Barrera

Arizona guard Taryn Griffey (3) brings the ball downcourt in McKale Center during the Wildcats’ exhibition against Eastern New Mexico on Nov. 10. Griffey hit six 3-pointers to finish with 18 points in Arizona’s 62-59 opening night win over Toledo.

Arizona women’s basketball looks to add to its momentum, as the Wildcats take on Howard University in their home opener today in McKale Center.

After starting the season with a 62-59 road victory over Toledo, the Wildcats now have a chance to defend their home court.

Arizona will need big contributions from everyone, especially team leaders Taryn Griffey, Breanna Workman and Malena Washington. They each scored in double figures against Toledo, with Griffey leading the way with 18 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Although returning starter LaBrittney Jones has yet to suit up this season, the rest of the team as a whole has stepped up during her absence. Between Workman’s inside presence, Washington’s shooting and Griffey’s all-around offensive game, Arizona found a way to win its season opener without Jones.

“I really feel like we’re playing together and can be a really good team,” Griffey said in a press release after the victory over Toledo. “Like I said before the season, we have something to say this year. It feels good to be able to play, so it was a great game.”

The offense could really open up when Jones returns, as she and Workman would start in the post while Griffey and Washington operate on the perimeter. That would create a pick-your-poison scenario for the opponent, as they would run the risk of getting burned from deep if they try to focus on the inside, and vice versa.

If opposing defenses pay too much attention to Griffey, Workman and Jones will have an easier time converting in the post and grabbing rebounds.

Howard would like to forget the horrors of last week, as the Bison come into this matchup after two blowout loses to open the season at the hands of University of Illinois at Chicago in a 27-point defeat and Northwestern in a lopsided 40-point differential.

Howard center Victoria Gonzalez is the main player the Wildcats need to focus on, as she comes into McKale Center averaging 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Forward Sydni Johnson is the other double-digit scorer, as she averages 10 points, five rebounds and two assists per game.

The Bison finished at a paltry 4-27 last season, including an 0-16 record on the road. So the Wildcats should capitalize on the Bison’s ineptitude on the road. If the Wildcats want to make the tournament this season, they need to be able to beat these kind of teams.

Arizona will tip off with Howard tonight at 7 p.m., with a live stream on Pac-12 Conference’s website. The Wildcats will hit the road after this short home stand to face the University of San Diego on Saturday at 5 p.m., and return to McKale Center on Monday to face Kansas in an unusually early weekday tipoff of 11 a.m.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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