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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    W-hoops blown out by Bruins

    After experiencing the highest of all highs at the game against Oregon last Saturday, the Arizona women’s basketball team is feeling the lowest of all lows after last night’s 58-39 loss against UCLA.

    The Wildcats (9-14, 2-10 Pacific 10 Conference) shot just 22 percent from the field for the game, thanks in largepart to just 3-of-26 shooting in the second half.

    “”You can take your pick on what caused us to lose the basketball game,”” UA head coach Niya Butts told the media after the loss. “”The No. 1 highlight was that when you only score 39 points, you have to have more of an offensive effort there.””

    While the result was a stark contrast to the win over Oregon, Butts duplicated the lineup that turned out the most efficient offensive output of the season.

    Perhaps it’s true what they say about lightning never striking twice.

    Senior forward Sarah Hays started over senior forward Amina Njonkou, and freshman guard Faihza Hill started over fellow freshman guard Courtney Clements. Clements scored a respectable 10 points, but the other three combined for just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.

    Similar to the previous contest against the Bruins (15-7, 6-5 Pac 10) the Wildcats played a competitive first half and were only down six points at the break. But for the second straight time, UCLA kept Arizona to single-digit field goals made and held them to under 40 points for the game.

    In addition to being dominated on the scoreboard, the Wildcats were out-rebounded 49-32.

    “”Certainly they killed us on the offensive boards,”” Butts said. “”They had 19 offensive rebounds and scored 17 points off of those. When you do that, you don’t give yourself any chance to win the basketball game.””

    One of the staples of Butts’ tenure thus far is that she demands consistency from her players. In exchange for that, she has always been consistent with her coaching and game preparation. In her mind, no opponent – regardless of how talented or intimidating – should play a role in the teams’ mindset.

    Unfortunately that didn’t happen last night.

    “”It very much appeared like we were intimidated against their zone defense,”” Butts said. “”We were very timid and they were very aggressive. All of a sudden we couldn’t attack the basket, we couldn’t dribble and we let them dictate the pace of the game.””

    ‘Cats looks to rebound against USC

    This weekend’s trip to Los Angeles was supposed to give the Wildcats a chance at revenge for the two home losses at the hands of both UCLA and USC. Both losses came in heartbreaking fashion, as Arizona played tremendously in the first 30 minutes of basketball, yet was nowhere to be found in the following 30.

    The first crack at revenge, a 58-39 loss to UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, didn’t go as planned. However, a victory in the second game at USC (12-10, 6-5 Pac 10) would still classify the road trip as a success.

    Butts, recognizing that the trip could serve as a monumental building block for her team, knew that they needed several days of high-energy, high-efficiency practice to be ready for the weekend.

    “”We still need to work on our defense, rebounding, and we still need to be able to make our shots,”” Butts said after the Oregon game about her teams’ preparation for the week ahead. “”We basically need to work on the things we’ve been working on.””

    While the defense-first philosophy has never changed, the lineup has. As a matter of fact, the lineup has changed very frequently. The team trotted out the same starting five in back-to-back games against Oregon and UCLA for the first time since the second leg of the conference schedule began.

    Unfortunately, that lineup didn’t work the second time around, and Butts now has some key decisions to make yet again.

    Njonkou, one of the most productive players in school history, came off the bench in the last two games to provide energy and production off the bench.

    The move worked like a charm against Oregon thanks to the starting five getting off to a fast start, enabling Njonkou to come into the game to continue the pressure.

    The second game was a different story. The Wildcats got minimal production from the starting five, and by the time Njonkou entered the game the team was in such a hole that they couldn’t get their offense going.

    Regardless of Thursday’s result, Saturday’s match-up against USC is just another day to perfect the “”Butts Method.””

    “”Nothing is going to change in terms of our preparation,”” Butts said. “”We just have to make sure that we stay mentally in tune with what’s going on and with our focus.””

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