After a tough, long road trip, the Arizona women’s basketball team was looking forward to home-court advantage and putting up another win.
In those three games — all losses — the Wildcats started a routine of not scoring early and falling behind before making a comeback, only to fall short in the end.
On Tuesday night at McKale Center, it was more of the same. The Wildcats got behind early to Long Beach State and fought the rest of the way before came up short once again, dropping this one 80-72.
“I am exhausted from the week-long road trip and I know they are exhausted, but I was hoping we could come back home and take care of it,” said coach Adia Barnes.
The Wildcats were down 20-10 after the first quarter and it didn’t get much better at the half, as they trailed 44-26.
“We can’t give teams so much confidence early and then try to come back,” Barnes said. “They had five players in double figures and all their kids that came in shooting in the 20s (percentage) from threes, hit their threes tonight.”
Long Beach State hit 10 of 24 threes for 42 percent, with the biggest one coming with 1:41 left in the game, after UA had closed the gap to six points.
UA’s JaLea Bennett had two steals resulting in fast breaks. Bennett was fouled on a put back and missed both free throws. She got it back on defense with another steal and passed to Lucia Alonso for the layup.
But Cecily Wilson, who finished with 12 points, hit her only three-pointer of the game to extend the lead to 76-67.
Bennett led all scorers with 24 points. Marlee Kyles had 19 and Alonso had 11 points.
Sam Thomas finished with 11 rebounds and once again did the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet.
“She played 35 of 40 minutes and those five minutes she wasn’t in feels like 15,” said Barnes. “It’s hard to take her out of the game. She’s doesn’t play like a freshman. She dives on the floor and it’s contagious. She can be 0 for 10, but she earns her time with the other things.”
Two members of the Wildcats 2018 recruiting class — Cate Reese and Shalyse Smith — have been named to the 2017 Girls’ High School Basketball Naismith Watch List. This list contains 50 players — 10 will be in the Pac-12 next season. This recognition, established in 1987 by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club, will be awarded at the end of the season to honor the best girls’ basketball player in the country.
Past winners have included Breanna Stewart, Chiney Ogwumike, Tamika Catchings, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, and Katie Lou Samuelson.