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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball: Wildcats outclaw Cougars in second conference win of the season

Carmen Valenica

Arizona’s Lauren Evans (10) and Jalea Bennett (33) walk off the court after the Wildcats win over Washington State, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. The Wildcats won their second conference game of the season.

The Arizona women’s basketball team trailed early and was less than impressive but rallied late to come from behind and defeat the Washington State Cougars Sunday in McKale, 56-55, for their second Pac-12 Conference win of the season, doubling their total from last year.

LaBrittney Jones came on late in the fourth quarter and grabbed a key offensive rebound then scored on a outback to cement the win for Arizona. Jones, the teams leading scorer and rebounder, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a 11-6 record (2-4 in Pac-12) on the season.

“LaBrittney is really emotional and when things get tough she gets tougher,” said forward Breanna Workman. “She got the offensive rebound and scored and that’s LB, she’s going to go get it, no matter what the score is, no matter if we’re down.”

The Wildcats were sloppy in the first half both in trying to keep the Cougars off the boards and in taking care of the ball. Washington State dominated the glass, coming away with a rebound margin of 52-36, but 15 turnovers in the first half for Arizona created a double-digit deficit that the Wildcats found difficult to crawl out of. Mark it as one of the differences between the past seasons to now because the team says it has confidence to overcome poor play and find a way to win.

“I just told them we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “We did a great job of taking care of the ball in the second half…but we continue to really struggle on rebounds. We gave up 23 offensive rebounds.”

The Wildcats were able to climb back into the game thanks to a full court press which created several turnovers during a 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to bring Arizona to within one. The Wildcats forced the Cougars into 24 turnovers on the day and limited Washington State to 27.8 percent shooting in the second half.

“I think last year we were the type of team that if we were up, we were up, but then if they came back and they started hitting shots we would’ve shut down,” said guard Taryn Griffey. “This year we don’t shut down at all.”

Outscored early on in the paint nine to two, the Wildcats played more aggressively and managed to come away with 28 points in the paint to 22 for WSU, one of the keys on an evening when both teams were fighting to get shots to drop in the basket. Both teams shot below 33 percent from the field but the Wildcats were able to get to the free throw line 18 times, converting 14 of them, to help with the win.

Washington State came in with key injuries to their top three scorer’s, So the Wildcats were in a position to get another win in the Pac-12, which is not an easy task this season.

“I like that we’re going through things, we’re learning how to battle,” Barnes said. “We were down and we battled back. We did all the little things and won the fourth quarter…we’re finding a way to win basketball games.”

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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