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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Arizona, Cougs set for rematch”

    UA guard Reiko Thomas gets pressured by a pair of ASU defenders during a 50-43 Sun Devil Win on Saturday in McKale Center. The Wildcats take on Washington State tonight at 7 to kick off the final weekend of womens basketball in Tucson this season.
    UA guard Reiko Thomas gets pressured by a pair of ASU defenders during a 50-43 Sun Devil Win on Saturday in McKale Center. The Wildcats take on Washington State tonight at 7 to kick off the final weekend of women’s basketball in Tucson this season.

    In its most recent game, the Arizona women’s basketball team played its most inspired game of the season against arch rival and No. 25 Arizona State.

    While the game ended in a 7-point defeat for Arizona, head coach Niya Butts said there were plenty of positives to move forward with, especially when the Wildcats take on Washington State tonight a 7 p.m.

    “”We played hard (against ASU), executed our game plan, and we only had 10 turnovers,”” Butts said following the game against the Sun Devils. “”We were able to do the things we worked on all week long in practice but we weren’t able to get the results we wanted.””

    Maintaining possession and limiting turnovers over the course of a 40-minute game is something Butts has preached about all season long, especially considering the youth and inexperience of a roster that starts at least two freshmen every night.

    The Wildcats (10-15, 3-11 Pacific 10 Conference) are second to last in the Pac-10 in turnover margin this season, with -2.32 turnovers per game, and they are dead last in the conference in assist/turnover ratio.

    Averaging 18.5 turnovers per game is like nails on a chalkboard to Butts, so committing just 10 turnovers last Saturday against Arizona State was a huge relief.

    “”We did a good job (against ASU),”” Butts said. “”We did a better job handling the ball than we have all season.””

    In addition to better ball control, the Wildcats spent the last week of practice honing their newfound weapon: man-to-man defense.

    You don’t need to look any further than ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne to tell you how effective the defense has become.

    “”They surprised us by coming out and playing so much man-to-man defense,”” Turner Thorne said after Saturday’s game. “”They played great and it was a tough game. I was happy we were able to pull out a win.””

    Such aggression and energy made it hard for the Sun Devils, one of the most talented teams in the nation, to get anything going offensively and although they were able to squeak out a win, it wasn’t easy.

    The tenacity is something that the Wildcats hope to bring to McKale Center on Thursday night against Washington State (10-16, 3-12 Pac-10). The Cougars defeated Arizona in their last meeting, but are still only a half-game behind the Wildcats in the Pac-10 standings.

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