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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Women’s basketball finishes runner up in FIU Thanksgiving Classic

Arizona women’s basketball split its two games at the FIU Thanksgiving Classic over the weekend in Miami, Fla. The Wildcats (2-3) defeated host FIU 65-58 in the opening round before falling 69-54 to Toledo in the championship game.

In the opening game, Arizona used a strong shooting performance to run away from the Panthers.

UA point guard Candice Warthen led the team with a season-high 18 points on 8-20 shooting, while guard JaLea Bennett scored a career-high 14 points off the bench.

Collectively, the UA had its most efficient offensive game of the season, shooting 47.6 percent from the field and committing just seven turnovers.

“It’s always good to win, especially when you can get one on the road,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said in a statement. “It was great to see us shoot a high percentage from the field. I also thought we competed well and took care of the basketball tonight.”

Arizona and FIU traded lead changes throughout the second half, but a 6-0 run gave the Wildcats a 50-47 advantage with 8:25 to go. It was the last time the lead would change hands, as the UA expanded the margin to as much as nine points in the final minutes.

The Wildcats controlled the paint by outscoring FIU 48-30 inside, although the Panthers dominated the glass with a 44-32 rebounding advantage. Nonetheless, FIU could not take advantage of its second-chance opportunities.

Butts deployed a balanced rotation, giving all nine players at least 13 minutes on the court. Warthen, however, played point guard nearly the entire game, only coming out for a couple breathers.

In the championship game on Sunday afternoon, Arizona could not find the shooting touch it had two days before.

After opening the game with an 18-13 lead, the UA allowed Toledo to go on a 15-4 run to close out the first half. The Rockets sat in control the rest of the game and expanded the lead to double digits in the final minutes.

Guard Malena Washington led Arizona with 12 points and four assists, while guard Keyahndra Cannon finished right behind with 11 points.
Both Washington and Cannon were named to the FIU Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament team.

However, the two guards shot a combined 7-28 from the field, severely limiting Arizona’s offensive efficiency. UA forward LaBrittney Jones was the most productive Arizona scorer, contributing 10 points on 4-8 shooting, while also finishing with a team-high nine rebounds.

As a team, the Wildcats made only 33 percent of their field goal attempts and went 3-16 from outside. Meanwhile, Toledo made 44 percent of its baskets behind a game-high 24 point outing from Inma Zanoguera.

Arizona hurt itself by dishing out just eight assists and committing 21 turnovers, which led to 26 Toledo points.

In the paint, the Wildcats once again held their own by outscoring Toledo 32-26. The two teams were even in the rebounding battle, each grabbing 35 boards.

Arizona now returns back home where it will host Grambling on Wednesday night.


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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