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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sun Devils take care of Wildcats in Tempe

Courtesy Josh Orcutt
ASU freshman guard Robbi Ryan (11) drives baseline while Wildcats guard Malena Washington reaches in to try and steal the ball during a women’s basketball game against the University of Arizona Wildcats in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. ASU won the game 67-54. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)

TEMPE– The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team avoided turnovers and defensive breakdowns in their win Friday against ASU; Sunday was a different story. The Wildcats turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, two more than the entire game Friday, and gave up multiple wide-open shots in both the half court and transition.

JaLea Bennett best epitomized the struggles of Arizona. Bennett had some dazzling plays scoring the first 6 of 8 points, but for every good play, she had a turnover or was spinning out of control in an attempt to score, the overall outcome wasn’t pretty: She finished with 11 points and five turnovers.

“She is a player we definitely need,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “… She gives us so many great things … as we progress she will learn. She is doing a better job; she’s a lot more under control now; she hit a big 3 tonight. I think as she learns to control her body a little more, like on jump stops, her game is just going to elevate even more.”

Barnes was frustrated about the level of officiating to begin the game. She pointed to foul calls affecting her team’s aggressiveness, despite ASU being the more physical team, as a cause of why the Wildcats struggled early on.

“I just felt the refs really affected the game in the first half,” Barnes said. “I don’t ever complain about the refs. I think Pac-12 is the No. 1 conference in the country, and I think we have some of the best officiating. But I felt that the way it was called in the beginning of the game, it really took us out of a rhythm.”

As for the Sun Devils, Sophie Brunner vowed after Friday’s game that ASU wouldn’t lose twice to the Wildcats, Brunner backed up her words with solid play in the post on both ends of the floor. Brunner is physical and she took up a lot of space, creating difficulty for the Wildcats forwards LaBrittney Jones and Breanna Workman to get anything going. On the other end Brunner was an efficient 5-for-6 through three quarters with 10 points, just enough to keep her a threat and open up ASU shooters, which is exactly what happened.

Every Sun Devil scored in the game but one and ASU, who only had 10 assists in the first matchup, finished with 18 as a team. Combine that with the reversal Arizona had in the turnover department, jumping from 11 to 25, and you can see why the Sun Devils turned the game from a 4-point loss to a 13-point win.

Senior LaBrittney Jones didn’t do well against the Sun Devil defense, forcing the issue several times with minimal results. Jones had several drives to the basket, but many times ASU doubled- and even triple-teamed her to which she did not adjust, finishing the game with a team-high seven turnovers.

The Wildcats will look to get a sweep in their last two games of the season this week; doing so would give Arizona a winning record on the season. However, they have a tough test in top-25 opponent UCLA and USC who the Wildcats lost to in Los Angeles earlier in the season. Tip-off time for UCLA in McKale Center is set for 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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