If there was ever a moment that underscored Arizona’s season, it came in the second half of Friday night’s game against Oregon.
With about 10 minutes left and the Wildcats losing by double digits, one of the game’s officials had to excuse himself for a minute during a timeout. The reason: He had to throw up.
That’s not a great image, sure.
But neither is a bench filled with more team managers and coaches than players.
Or a 4-15 overall record, 0-9 Pac-12.
And, it certainly didn’t look good when the Wildcats almost lost another player — they only had seven healthy players coming in — early on in an 84-72 loss to the Ducks at McKale Center.
“Obviously, this is disappointing,” coach Niya Butts said. “That starts to sound redundant after a while. There were a lot of things we didn’t do well.”
For one, the Wildcats couldn’t stop Oregon star Jillian Alleyene, who had 29 points, 20 rebounds and three assists and shot a perfect 11 for 11 from the field.
She was scary-good, but the scariest part came earlier in the game.
Kama Griffitts, Arizona’s second-leading scorer, limped off to the bench with 16:38 left in the first half after injuring her ankle. Team trainers tended to her, and she eventually returned to the game.
Griffitts finished with six points. Her status for Sunday’s game against Oregon State remains up in the air.
“We certainly hope,” Butts said after the game. “You can never really tell. Sometimes adrenaline gets you going when it initially happens. I know she’s in a good deal of pain right now, but we feel like she should be OK by tomorrow.”
When Griffitts returned, the Wildcats only trailed by eight. For the next eight minutes, Arizona couldn’t get it within seven points.
With 2:58 to go, the Ducks took a 36-25 lead and never really looked back.
Even though the Wildcats’ offense was solid in the second half — the UA scored 45 points and shot 48.7 percent from the field — Oregon was still able to grow the lead to 19 points. Arizona couldn’t cut the lead to less than 11.
“It’s usual,” said Candice Warthen, who scored 20 points. “That’s what we always do. It’s nothing the other team is doing. Never, ever, ever. We create our own problems, we don’t get the rebounds, we don’t finish plays.
“Shoot,” she added. “We haven’t won a game the whole conference. It’s very frustrating, and this is a team we know we can beat.”
Last year, Oregon was Arizona’s first Pac-12 win.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Ducks weren’t exactly lighting up the Pac-12. If anything, they were known for having the best offense — and worst defense — in the league.
“We’ve been waiting all year long for everybody to kind of click on all cylinders, and it just hasn’t happened for us,” Butts said.
“It will. It will. I’m confident and optimistic that it will.”
With games still remaining against No. 21 Cal, No. 4 Stanford and next week’s two bouts with No. 15 ASU — things won’t get much easier going forward.
And, with blowout losses to the Pac-12’s other bottom dwellers, coupled with a depleted, seven-person roster, the Wildcats have a decent chance of matching their program-worst 25 loses, set in 1991.