With each game — and each loss — the frustration builds.
The clock is ticking on Arizona’s season, and for Erica Barnes, Kama Griffitts and Carissa Crutchfield, on their careers.
At 4-18 overall and 0-10 in league play, the Wildcats — barring a Pac-12 conference-tournament miracle — won’t be participating in the postseason. That means Arizona’s three seniors must play for pride.
“We talked about that,” coach Niya Butts said. “You don’t want to go out this way, especially as a senior. This is your last year, so for the underclassmen, they should be working to prevent that. And for the seniors, they should be working to prevent that.”
Instead, things seems to be regressing. The Wildcats are mired in last place in the Pac-12, and recently lost to the two teams just ahead of them — Oregon and Colorado — by 12 and 21 points, respectively.
Arizona will face teams ranked No. 3, No. 11 and No. 23 in the nation in the next seven days. Should the favored teams win, the Wildcats will clinch the worst season in program history.
Then there’s what happened Tuesday.
Arizona led ASU for most of the first half, their fastest start since conference play began.
Then, as they say, the wheels fell off, and the teams went into halftime tied at 26.
The Wildcats would score 10 more points the rest of the game — ASU 34. It was Arizona’s worst half of the season. The team missed 13 of 17 shots and committed 12 turnovers.
“We started the second half and didn’t play well on the defensive end,” Butts said. “We talked about it at halftime, and we talked about it in the huddle. We just seemed to fall apart in the second half.”
Facing the same team twice in close succession could be beneficial, Butts said last week.
“Playing the same opponent within the same week certainly helps in preparation,” she said. “You take a look at the first game and dissect it fully.”
It’s been discussed a lot, but that scouting will show something that can’t really be fixed — depth.
The Sun Devils’ roster is deep — they played 12 players on Tuesday, and have nine players averaging more than 15 minutes per game.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats have seven healthy bodies.
“We just have to change some things,” Butts said. “We have to really evaluate how we’re approaching the things we’re doing and work for change. They don’t just happen. We have to put things in place.”