After Sunday’s loss to USC, Candice Warthen seemed about ready to channel her inner Peter Finch.
That is, the late actor who famously shouted, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” in a scene in the 1976 movie “Network.”
The Wildcats had just lost another close game, 54-45 to the Trojans. It was their fourth straight loss and 11th of the season, eight of which were within 10 points.
In this one, the Wildcats trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half, brought it within one point in the second, only to falter in the end.
“We gotta push harder, we gotta find it in ourselves,” Warthen said. “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.”
It won’t get any easier this weekend.
Tonight at 7, Arizona welcomes No. 4-ranked Stanford to McKale Center; Monday at 3 comes 15th-ranked California.
For better comparison, consider this — Stanford (15-1, 4-0 Pac-12) has the No. 1 RPI, and Cal (12-3, 4-0) is No. 12. The Wildcats are No. 247, the worst RPI rating of any team in all the major conferences.
“You know, certainly when you have Stanford and Cal coming in, they’re both playing pretty well right now,” UA coach Niya Butts said. “You don’t have time to harp on what happened. You have to prepare for your next opponents and try to make changes.”
A look at Stanford
Arizona hasn’t exactly matched up well with Stanford over the years, but really, who has?
The Cardinal has won at least 30 games in seven of the last nine years and has made at least the Sweet 16 in nine of the last 10 years, which included four Final Four appearances.
The Wildcats have certainly felt Stanford’s wrath.
Here’s a quick rundown of their head-to-head:
- Arizona is 12-57 all-time, and 6-35 in the last 20 years.
- The Wildcats had one win against Stanford in each year from 1998-2001, plus 2003-04.
- UA is in the midst of an 18-game losing streak against Stanford.
- The last game that was within 20 points was in 2009, when the UA lost 70-61.
- Only eight losses since 1994 have been by 10 points or fewer.
And, of course, this year’s Stanford team is typically dominant, winning its four Pac-12 games by an average of 22 points. The Cardinal is led by Chiney Ogwumiki, the defending Pac-12 Player of the Year and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
This year, she’s leading the Pac-12 in scoring (27.3 points per game) and field goal percentage (62.8), and she is second in rebounding (11.8), blocks (1.8) and double-doubles (11). She has had six 30-point games this season and has won six Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.
She’s also the Pac-12’s all-time leading rebounder.
On the bright side, Ogwumike hasn’t necessarily lit up the Wildcats in her illustrious career. In four games against Arizona, she has averaged 14.5 points and 8.8 rebounds.
A look at Cal
Arizona has had a little more success against Cal than Stanford historically, albeit not recently.
All-time, Arizona has a 29-27 advantage on the Golden Bears, although Cal has won 13 straight against the UA. In fact, from 1996 to 2005, Arizona won 19 straight, but has won only one time since.
This year, the Golden Bears had to replace Layisha Clarendon, one of the better players in team history, from a Final Four team. But, so far, so good.
Brittany Boyd has been her usual, productive self, getting 13.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and a Pac-12-best 5.5 assists per game. Plus, the UA will have to deal with Cal’s frontcourt, including 6-foot-3-inch junior Reshanda Grey (16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) and 6-3 freshman Courtney Range (7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds).