After winning the tip, Long Beach steals the ball but turns over with a charge. Arizona starts off slow due to Long Beach implementing a full court press to start the game and man to man defense puts the Cats at an early deficit. Lucia Alonso shuts down a Long Beach run with an all net 3, but poor defense, a lack of rebounds, and a full court defensive plan for Long Beach State ends the 1st quarter down 10-20.
Arizona started the second quarter strong with Kat Wright finishing a drive to the basket with a foul sinking the And 1. Long Beach dominated the boards, pushing back at UA, but thanks to proactive coaching strategy, the momentum for the Cats builds with a full court press of their own. UA adds to that plan by using a trap under the basket. Despite a change in game plan, Wildcats down 26-44 at the half.
Half time in the locker rooms shows a new passion in the Wildcats. Sam Thomas lights a fire under her team with a solid block followed by a 3 pointer at the other end of the court by Wright. Frustration with the change in the Cats play shows from Long Beach player Martina McCowan. Scrappier play by the Cats leading to favorable calls and jump balls. Marlee Kyles takes advantage of the holes in the paint drawing fouls and feeding the ball to the outside. A push from the freshman leaves the quarter UA 46, LB 60.
The fourth quarter is where the Lady Cats made their move. JaLea Bennett and Alonso start the quarter with a bang with a stellar give and go and completing it with a foul and extra point with the free throw. With 8:07 left in the game Arizona rally’s and get the fans on their feet. Power freshman Kyles leading the charge with a 3 forcing Long Beach State to take a time out. Long Beach State shows obvious frustration as UA mounts a comeback. With 4:48 left in the game, Arizona pulls within 10. Even with the rally, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock, and Arizona Lady Cats fall to Long Beach State 80-72. Long Beach ended the game with 5 players in double digits.
After the game Coach Barnes commented on the lack of post players and a continued issue with starting down and having a hard time fighting back. She stated she was proud of the effort and lack of defeat in the team. Coach recognized that usual strong shooter, Sam Thomas, went 3-11, but didn’t give up by dominating the boards with 11 rebounds on the game. Coach Barnes noted that having a lack of depth in only having 7 players to rotate puts a lot of pressure on the team. She stated she was proud of the hard work the team put in late in the game, and expected that building up the team and depending on leadership will make the change. The team is young but is improving overall.
Team leaders JaLea Bennett and Marlee Kyles spoke for the team. They said they work hard and appreciate the devotion the team has. Team work and communication help ensure that team morale doesn’t dip. They acknowledged that listening to each other and relying on each other ensures that they stay motivated and keep pushing even when they are down. Despite having lost this evening they stayed positive and listened to their leaders.