Scoring was never really a problem for Davellyn Whyte.

In four years, Whyte became the second-leading scorer in UA history, with 2,059 points in 126 games, 16.3 points per game.

The Wildcats could use her scoring punch this season, which would have been helpful Sunday against USC at McKale Center.

“We certainly could,” said UA coach Niya Butts. Whyte was inducted into Arizona’s Ring of Honor before the game, a 54-45 loss to the Trojans. It was the Wildcats’ fourth straight defeat to open their conference slate.

“But, you know, I’ll either take that or us just executing when we have the opportunities to score. It’s something we haven’t been able to do.”

Arizona’s defense has been solid — USC was the fourth team in the UA’s last five games that the Wildcats held below its season scoring average — but, like Butts said, its offense has rendered that fruitless.

The Wildcats shot 16 of 53 (30.2 percent), and scored 17 first-half points. It was their eighth loss of less than 10 points this season.

Arizona dropped to 4-11 (0-4 Pac-12).

“We gotta push harder,” said guard Candice Warthen, who had a team-high 12 points. “We gotta find it in ourselves. I know that we’re able to do it. We lose close games. Nobody is blowing us out. We’re always right there, but we never finish. We never, ever, ever finish. We just have to learn how to do that.”

And if there was ever a time to make shots, it was in the first half against the Trojans.

USC opened the game missing 16 of 19 shots — but Arizona missed 12 of its first 15.

Then USC bounced back, hit 6 of its next 9, Arizona missed 9 of 13 and went into the half trailing 28-17.

“It’s very frustrating,” Butts said. “We’re not capitalizing on so many opportunities we have. We miss fast-break layups, we’re not able to execute. It’s things that should be fundamental for us, and they’re just not getting done.”

It looked like much of the same in the second half — Arizona opened with a 6-0 run, didn’t score for nearly six minutes, and trailed by 16 points with less than six minutes remaining.

Then, the Wildcats had an outburst of energy, and execution:

  • Erica Barnes hit two free throws, USC turned it over.
  • Carissa Crutchfield hit a jumper, then USC turned it over.
  • Crutchfield hit 1 of 2 free throws, then Warthen stole it.
  • Warthen hit a layup, then LaBrittney Jones stole an inbound pass and scored a layup.
  • There were two more steals, and two more Arizona points, and suddenly the score was 50-45 with 2:14 to go, thanks to a 11-0 run.

“I think we started off with a lot of energy then eventually it died down,” said freshman forward Breanna Workman. “We have to have a mindset and that mindset has to be for the entire 40 minutes. We can’t let up.”

But the Wildcats wouldn’t score another point.

“We have 4-5 minutes where we’re going like gangbusters, knocking down open shots,” Butts said. “I think we all have to figure out ways to execute, especially down the stretch, whether it’s defensively, offensively. We’re gonna do everything we can as a staff to get this thing corrected.”

Up next for the Wildcats, No.4-ranked Stanford comes to McKale Center on Friday.