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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s hoops gets first win in Santa Barbara

Defense and rebounding fueled the first victory of the 2013-14 season for the Arizona women’s basketball team.

Arizona (1-2) beat the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (1-2) in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Saturday by a score of 51-49 in a game where the Wildcats had a considerable size advantage.

The Wildcats capitalized on that size advantage by posting their highest rebounding total of the season (40 rebounds) and outrebounding the Gauchos by a margin of 40-32. Leading the rebounding effort for Arizona was senior guard Kama Griffitts, who finished with a team-high 11 boards to go along with her nine points.

An improved defense was instrumental to the victory as freshman guard Ashley Merrill led the team with three steals. For an Arizona team that had been giving up 77.5 points per game, head coach Niya Butts had to be encouraged with the team allowing only 49 points to UCSB.

Arizona was coming off two consecutive OT losses on Nov. 8 and 9 at the Iona Tip-Off Tournament.
“It was a grind-out game for us,” Butts said in a press release. “For us to lose the last two games in that fashion, it was good to actually win one that we had to play to the very end. We know now that we can win those types of games.”

UC Santa Barbara was paced by senior guards Nicole Nesbit and Destini Mason, who combined to score 28 of the Gauchos’ 49 points. Despite their production, the team could not overcome the tough defense of Arizona en route to shooting merely 36.7 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from three-point territory.

However, UC Santa Barbara wasn’t the only team struggling to consistently score. The Gauchos held Arizona to 41.3 percent from the field, which is the team’s lowest field goal percentage of the season so far.

Offense was hard to come by as Arizona’s 51 points was 22 points less than its season average of 73 points per game. The Wildcats did however get 18 much-needed points from junior guard Candice Warthen, who has led the team in scoring in each game this season.

The Wildcats take the floor Wednesday in their home opener against Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m.

— Follow Roberto Payne @RPsportreporter

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