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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women’s basketball takes wire to wire win over Grambling

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Layla Nicks

Arizona women’s basketball forwards Dejza James (31) and LaBrittney Jones (24) defend Grambling guard Yosha Watson’s (24) shot during Arizona’s 65-51 win against Grambling State in McKale Center on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. James and Jones contributed 21 points together to beat the Tigers once again 73-46 Tuesday in McKale.

Despite another sloppy performance, Arizona women’s basketball held on for a 65-51 win over Grambling State on Wednesday night. The Wildcats had nearly as many turnovers (24) as made shots (25) as they struggled to play through GSU’s tight defense. 17 turnovers came in the second half.

“It’s a matter of focus,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “It’s a matter of positioning. It’s a matter of discipline offensively. You learn in the second grade not to come across halfcourt and pick the ball up and put it over your head.”

The UA started the game off strong and looked like it was going to handle the Lady Tigers without much difficulty. Arizona made 50 percent of its first half shots and went into halftime with a convincing 37-18.

“I liked our first half,” Butts said. “I thought we played pretty solid. We fouled too much but other than that, we made some good plays.”

In the second half was when things fell apart.

“They kind of threw a diamond press on us,” UA point guard Candice Warthen said. “I wouldn’t say we weren’t ready for it, but they didn’t do it in the first half at all and we were [caught] by surprise.”

Grambling State outscored the Wildcats 33-28 in the final 20 minutes by capitalizing on miscue after miscue. In a five-minute stretch midway through the half, Arizona committed six turnovers without making a bucket.

The UA never let the lead shrink below double digits, but a 24-point margin was cut down to 12 in the game’s final minutes.

“We got way too comfortable, got relaxed and didn’t play with nearly as much intensity in the second half,” Butts said.

All was not bad considering the UA held GSU to 33 percent from the field, including 1-14 from the perimeter. Dierra Ely led the Tigers with 12 points. 

The Wildcats meanwhile shot 49 percent as a team with 40 coming in the paint. A major size advantage allowed for Arizona to outrebound GSU 43-28 and nearly score at will once it got inside.

Leading Arizona in scoring was freshman Dezja James, who had 14 points off the bench. Sophomore LaBrittney Jones was right behind with 12 points and 12 rebounds, good enough for a double-double.

“I thought [LaBrittney] finished well,” Butts said. “We certainly needed that, coming up with that double-double. She needed a bounceback game. Dezja was big for us offensively as well tonight, and Alli [Gloyd] was huge for us on the boards.”

Arizona entered in a total of 11 players and got solid contributions from Keyahndra Cannon, Charise Holloway and Jelea Bennet.

Even with the positives, no one was in a mood to celebrate barely topping a GSU team that had previously been blown out by every Division I team it had faced.

“It’s over,” Butts said. “That’s the best thing I can say about this game.”

Indeed, the Wildcats can put this one behind them and turn their focus to a road match at Wake Forest this Sunday.

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Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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