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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona WBB takes care of business against New Mexico State in season opener

Nathanial Stenchever

Kailyn Gilbert, a guard on the Arizona women’s basketball team, is named player of the game and beats the drum twice for the two wins this season on Nov. 13, in McKale Center. The Wildcats won their second game 87-47.

The Arizona women’s basketball team began its 2023-24 season going up against New Mexico State University in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. The Wildcats defeated the Aggies 68-57. 

Breya Cunningham showed out in her collegiate debut, showcasing her skills by recording a double-double with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and securing 10 rebounds. Her impact extended to five blocks and one assist. Cunningham’s performance was part of a trio of Wildcats who scored in double figures, with Kailyn Gilbert contributing 16 points and Maya Nnaji finishing the game with 15.

First half 

During the early stages of the first quarter, both teams faced offensive challenges, resulting in a low-scoring affair. However, the Wildcats managed to establish a 10-1 lead against New Mexico State at the first timeout. Salimatou Kourouma played a significant role in Arizona’s points, with Gilbert and Nnaji also making valuable contributions.

Arizona’s dominance in the paint, outscoring New Mexico State 40-20, was a highlight of its performance. The Wildcats also excelled defensively, limiting the Aggies to 34.5% shooting for the game, with New Mexico State managing only six points in the first quarter.

Nnaji continued her scoring prowess in the second quarter, notching nine points, which included a three-pointer and a fast-break layup following a steal on back-to-back possessions. She rounded out the period with two rebounds, two assists and a steal. Meanwhile, Cunningham remained a force in the second quarter, making both of her attempts, pulling down three rebounds and registering three blocks.

At halftime, the score stood at 35-23 in favor of the Wildcats, who also registered 11 points off the bench and 16 points in the paint.

Second half

As Arizona entered the second half, they faced difficulties in maintaining possession, leading to several turnovers due to a lack of quick passing and ball control. The Wildcats appeared to still be working through adapting to each other’s playing styles. 

Esmery Martinez contributed 3 quick points in the third quarter, with a successful free throw and a putback jumper off a rebound. Martinez concluded the game with 9 points and two assists.

The fourth quarter saw Gilbert become the third Wildcat to reach double-digit scoring, sinking a 3-pointer on the opening possession and adding a layup a few minutes later. Her final stats included nine rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Jada Williams made her first career start as a Wildcat, though she struggled to find her scoring touch, making only two out of seven shots. Despite these challenges, Arizona delivered a strong overall performance, recognizing the need to improve possession control as it prepares for its upcoming games.

Looking ahead:

Arizona returns to Tucson for its first home game of the season against NAU on Friday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in McKale Center.

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