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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona women’s basketball: Lucia Alonso, Taryn Griffey lead Wildcats to 77-67 win over FAU

Caelum Gay
Arizona guard Malena Washington springs up to shoot past a Flordia Atlantic defender on Thursday, Dec. 1 in McKale Center. The Wildcats are down 38-39 at the half.

Lucia Alonso scored a career-high 15 points, and Taryn Griffey added a season high of 19 as the Arizona women’s basketball team beat Florida Atlantic University 77-67 Thursday night in McKale Center.

Malena Washington and LaBrittney Jones also scored in double figures as the Wildcats used a strong second-half performance to pull away with the victory, improving their record to 4-1 on the season.

The Owls jumped out to a 16-7 lead and led 39-38 at halftime, but Arizona outscored FAU 39-28 in the final two quarters.

It’s the Wildcats’ third comeback win this season.

“Our starts are a little slow,” Griffey said. “We always get hit first; we don’t ever hit first. I just feel like we need to come out more aggressive, more intense and really try to set the tone.”

Washington scored all 13 of her points in the third, helping the Wildcats take a 64-59 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

Washington missed all seven shots she took in the first half but bounced back in a big way.

“I don’t know why Malena has been starting off slow,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “She waits until the second half and then she gets going, but I’m proud of her. She doesn’t give up. I think what’s happened a couple times is she gets in a little bit of foul trouble then she gets past it, and then the second half [she] comes out looking to attack the rim and looking to score.”

The Wildcats were 11-for-19 from the field in third quarter, and Griffey got a layup off a stolen in-bounds pass to cap off the period, giving Arizona a five-point lead before the final quarter.

The Wildcats then led the entire fourth quarter, outscoring the Owls 13-8 in the final 10 minutes.

Griffey was 6-for-12 from the field and sank three 3-pointers in the game in 27 minutes. Griffey has dealt with knee injuries in the past, so Barnes carefully watches her work load but couldn’t help but keep the guard in the game.

“She came in on fire and she was doing really good,” Barnes said. “I did ask her how she was feeling since I have … to manage that … but she was doing a great job.”

Alonso had 10 of Arizona’s first-quarter points, hitting all three of her shot attempts, including two 3-pointers. However, the rest of the Wildcats were a combined 2-for-13 in the opening frame and FAU led 22-15.

Alonso got help in the second quarter as Griffey drained three 3-pointers in the period. Then Alonso, who was 5-for-5 in the first half, added five more points, including a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down to cut FAU’s lead to 37-36.

“I feel very confident,” Alonso said. “It’s easy for me to play with [my teammates].”

The Wildcats were 5-for-6 in the second quarter from behind the arc as they outscored the Owls 23-17. Griffey scored 11 points in the quarter and Alonso scored all 15 of her points in the first half, surpassing her previous career high of 13.

Still, the Owls held a one-point lead at the break behind 16 first-half points from Sasha Cedeno, who sank two 3-pointers in each of the first two quarters.

The Wildcats held Cedeno to only eight points in the second half, as she finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

“I challenged them at halftime,” Barnes said of her team. “[Cedeno] needs to not get any more open looks. We were not helping as much off of her and that was strategic, because if someone was going to beat us, it wasn’t going to be her for 20 more minutes.”

The Owls shot 35.7 percent as a team, while Arizona shot 45.5 percent. The Wildcats were 8-for-16 from behind the arc.

Jones added 11 points and nine rebounds for Arizona, a board short of what would have been her second double-double of the season.

The Wildcats return to action Sunday when they travel to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to take on New Mexico State. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. 

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter.

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