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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball team faces Texas Tech, looking for its first win of the season

Kyle Hansen

Arizona forward LaBrittney Jones (24) looks for an open player during Arizona’s 76-72 loss against CSU
Bakersfield in McKale Center on Monday. Jones and the Wildcats hit the road for the first time on Friday to face Texas Tech.

The Arizona women’s basketball team will look to get its first win of the season on Friday when it goes on the road to face Texas Tech.

The UA lost its season opener on Monday, a 76-72 home defeat to Cal State Bakersfield. The Wildcats played poorly on both sides of the ball, committing 21 turnovers and allowing the Roadrunners to have their way from behind the arc.

While Arizona made a strong second-half run after being down as much as 20 points, the Wildcats couldn’t execute in the final minutes.

“If you don’t play up to your ability and can’t get stops defensively,” Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts said, “The results are probably not going to be good for you.”

In a season being billed as a “breakthrough,” it was a disappointing first performance for the Wildcats, who had a handful of players out for violating team rules.

A game into the season, the UA is already in need of a big victory, not only to begin building a successful nonconference resume but to establish an air of confidence in the locker room. This is a program still getting over a dismal 2013-2014 campaign in which it won just five games.

Back-to-back opening losses could set Arizona down the same path.

“The thing we most need to do is focus and work on our discipline,” UA forward LaBrittney Jones said. “We had five bad days of practice, so we have to make sure we go in with the right mindset for the next game.”

The matchup versus Texas Tech looks winnable, at least on paper.

Like Arizona, the Red Raiders were picked to finish last in their conference after going 0-18 in Big 12 Conference play last season. So far this year, Texas Tech is 2-0 after scraping by Jacksonville State and Texas State.

For the UA to come out on top, it will need to play a fundamentally sound game and take advantage of the glass. Against Cal State Bakersfield, the Wildcats had a number of put-back opportunities and couldn’t convert.

Arizona did receive solid performances from guard Candice Warthen and forward Alli Gloyd. While Jones racked up a 14 point, 13 rebound double-double. Perhaps most encouraging, freshman Charise Holloway started her first career game and scored 12 points behind a pair of 3-pointers.

Defensively, the Wildcats struggled to contain Bakersfield with their man-to-man defense until Butts switched to zone at the start of the second half. The change led to a nine-minute field-goal drought by the Roadrunners.

While the UA looked overwhelmed at times against Bakersfield, the team should be back to full strength on Friday. The additional depth, as well as the lessons learned from the opening night loss, may give Arizona the spark it needs down the stretch.

“Hopefully, the film will speak for itself, and we’ll improve,” Butts said. “I have a lot of confidence in what we’re capable of doing. We just have to make sure as a team we have that same confidence.”


Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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