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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball hosts Eastern New Mexico for exhibition matchup

File Photo

Arizona forward LaBrittney Jones (24) shoots while playing against Stanford in McKale Center on Feb. 8.

The UA men’s basketball team kicked off its season against Chico State in an exhibition matchup on Sunday and the women’s team is following suit as the Wildcats take on Eastern New Mexico in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in McKale Center.

Arizona is looking to avenge last season’s disaster of a season, as they finished No. 11 in the Pac-12 Conference with a record of 10-20 and 3-15 in conference. With a core of solid contributors from last season, the Wildcats look to make strides and achieve a more respectable season.

Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts is heading into her eighth year with the Wildcats and looks to have her second winning season with the team after four straight years of sub-.500 records. Other than the 2010-2011 season, when the UA reached the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, the Wildcats have yet to make the postseason under Butts. As a player, she practiced under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summit at Tennessee and helped the Lady Volunteers to two national titles in 1997 and 1998.

The Wildcats lost two starters, including last year’s leading scorer and only double-digit scorer Candice Warthen, but they do return eight players, including last year’s second leading scorer in junior LaBrittney Jones, who averaged nine points and five rebounds. Other key returners from last year’s team include starting guards Malena Washington, Keyahndra Cannon and Charise Holloway off the bench.

The Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds are coming off of a 9-18 season and will be playing their second exhibition match after getting blown out Saturday in an exhibition game against Texas Tech 77-43.

The Greyhounds are led by senior guard Sarah Stinnett, who led the team in scoring last year at 14.4 points per game, while also averaging four rebounds and two assists per game. Last season, she finished third in the Lone Star Conference in points per game and poured in 37 points in one game against Angelo State.

Eastern New Mexico also returns another starter in Jaylyn Cooper, who averaged five points and three rebounds, and key-reserve Jordyn Cooper, who averaged seven points off the bench.

Many predict Arizona to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12, but analysts say that with a healthier team and an abundance of key returners, the Wildcats should be able to improve.

The Wildcats will officially kick off their season on the road Saturday as they face University of Toledo, available to listen on KTUC AM 1400.

Arizona’s opens at home Nov. 18 in McKale Center against Howard University as it looks to contend in the Pac-12 and make the tourney this year. Last season, the Wildcats went 7-5 in non-conference before faltering in conference play.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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