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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Short-handed women’s basketball wins sole exhibition

Ryan+Revock+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ACandice+Warthen+goes+up+for+a+lay+up+against+Fort+Lewis+College+on+Saturday+at+the+McKale+Memorial+Center.++
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat Candice Warthen goes up for a lay up against Fort Lewis College on Saturday at the McKale Memorial Center.

Arizona women’s basketball defeated Fort Lewis College 80-65 in an exhibition in the Wildcats’ season debut on Saturday.

The Wildcats only had seven players, including four freshmen, suit up for the game, as senior forward Erica Barnes and sophomore guard Keyahndra Cannon were both held out of the game because of injuries. Senior forward Alli Gloyd tore her ACL during a preseason scrimmage.

“In that seven, we had to play freshmen,” said head coach Niya Butts. “We played four freshmen a lot, and they were able to get production. We feel pretty good about our newcomers.”

Fort Lewis was neck and neck with Arizona throughout the first half, but the Skyhawks couldn’t overcome the Wildcats’ defense. Arizona forced 28 turnovers including 16 steals.

Leading with five steals was junior guard Candice Warthen, who missed all of last season as a medical redshirt. Warthen played 38 minutes in her first UA game since she last played on March 8, 2012 in the Pac-12 Conference tournament against ASU.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played that many minutes, so I was really fatigued,” Warthen said. “It was our first game. It was fast-paced, but I had to push through it.”

Butts said the Wildcats missed Warthen and that she was happy with her performance.

“I’m just thankful she’s back,” Butts said. “She showed what we’ve been missing for the last year and a half. More than anything, I’m excited for her.”

Aiding Warthen was freshman LaBrittney Jones, who finished with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds. Jones started and played 28 minutes in her first game as a Wildcat. Jones is coming off a torn ACL that kept her off the floor throughout her senior season of high school and was excited to get back in action.

“It was great,” Jones said. “I haven’t played in a year, so I was ready to get back on the court and do good.”

Arizona’s defense forced Fort Lewis’ starting guards Erika Richards, Erin Curry and Ashley Kuchar to commit a combined 21 turnovers for the game. Butts said she was impressed with the number of turnovers forced by the Wildcats but said they can improve.

“We can get better from that,” Butts said. “I know we forced 28 turnovers, but I think our transition defense and our half-court defense can get a lot better.”

Richards and Kuchar led the Skyhawks with a combined 32 points. Arizona opens the regular season on Friday in New York in the Iona Tip-off Tournament.

— Follow Roberto Payne @RPsportreporter

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