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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s basketball travels to Santa Barbara

Joey+Fisher+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ACarissa+Cruthfield+looks+for+a+team+mate+to+pass+to+against+Fort+Lewis+at+Mckale+Center.+Wildcats+defeated+Fort+Lewis+80-65.
Joey Fisher
Joey Fisher / The Daily Wildcat Carissa Cruthfield looks for a team mate to pass to against Fort Lewis at Mckale Center. Wildcats defeated Fort Lewis 80-65.

Arizona women’s basketball takes to the road as the team heads to UC Santa Barbara to face the Gauchos on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Wildcats (0-2) are coming off two consecutive overtime losses against Iona and Michigan last weekend at the Iona Tip-Off Tournament. The team will play for its first win of the season.

UA junior guard Candice Warthen is off to a strong start this year after sitting out all last season with a knee injury.

“If anything, my role has gotten bigger,” Warthen said on Pac-12 Conference media day. “I feel as if I can do the same thing that I did before I left — and maybe even better.”

Warthen has backed up her talk with her play on the court. The 5-foot-5 guard is averaging a team-high 42.0 minutes per game and is leading the team in points per game (21.5), assists per game (6.5) and steals per game (3.0).

UC Santa Barbara (1-0) is coming off a win against Occidental College in which senior guard Nicole Nesbit led the way with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Gauchos will have a considerable size disadvantage, as only two of the nine players on their roster are over 6 feet. By comparison, eight of the 12 players on Arizona’s roster are over 6 feet.

That size advantage is key for an Arizona team that has struggled to rebound in the early part of the season. The Wildcats have been outrebounded by an average of 10 rebounds per game this season.

“We know that we have to step up,” said freshman guard Ashley Merrill.

No Arizona player is averaging more than six rebounds per game. To put that into perspective, 10 of the other 11 Pac-12 schools have at least one player who averages seven rebounds per game.

The Wildcats are also tied for 11th place in the Pac-12 in rebounding offense with 32 rebounds per game — that’s 27.5 fewer rebounds per game than Oregon, which leads the Pac-12 with 59.5.

“A lot of times, we do a great job on first shots,” said UA head coach Niya Butts. “What we have not done well is finishing the play with rebounds.”

Arizona’s next game after this weekend is on Wednesday at home, as the Wildcats take on Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on pac-12.com.

— Follow Roberto Payne @RPsportreporter

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