(Tucson, AZ) The Cats final tune up prior to conference play starting on December 30th against arch rival ASU.
The evening was also a celebration of 127 years since Dr. James Naismith’s introduced the game of basketball to the world in 1891. Naismith’s great granddaughter Margaret Naismith Jonker was in attendance as well as Arizona’s legendary coach Lute Olson along with Head Coach Sean Miller at the night’s festivities.
Last year, Arizona lost to the Lumberjacks 84-66 in Flagstaff with a completely different Wildcat team.
This year the likes of Cate Reese, Aari McDonald and Dominique McBryde were set to atone for last year’s loss.
The Cats led 9-5 at the first Media time out off of 4-10 shooting. Subsequently, NAU was 2-11 from the field, but had outrebounded Arizona 9-6 with five offensive boards.
Arizona with Reese had a sizable height advantage in the middle blocking ten shots, but the Lumberjacks played them even on the boards for most of the game.
At the end of the first quarter, Zona led 17-11 off timely threes and fifty percent shooting.
In the second quarter, Arizona put the pedal to the metal and went on a 19-4 run to take charge 36-17 going into the locker room at halftime.
Time and time again, the Lumberjacks were stymied on their end of the court and allowed Zona to go on big runs.
Part of the turnaround was fourteen points in the paint and nine points off Lumberjack turnovers. The Cats shot 48.5% off 16-33 from the field.
The second half started out trading baskets but then the Cats put on the trap and another 14-1 run to the media timeout and a 54-24 lead.
The ratcheted up defense caused chaos and caused twenty two NAU turnovers . Surprisedly, the Lumberjacks were even on the boards 26-26.
A couple of fouls at the end of the third quarter and a Cate Reese three pointer at the buzzer gave Arizona a 63-30 lead heading into the final quarter.
Reese’s dominance in the paint and McDonald’s quarterbacking the team continued to halfway through the fourth quarter when Barnes called off the dogs and inserted the bench.
Fast breaks points off steals and controlled offensive flow was the story tonight. The second and third quarters was the dagger where NAU was outscored 46-19.
This style of Arizona Women’s basketball has been brewing since the season began. A stark difference from seasons past. Another example of building toughness and consistency in the program by Coach Barnes and her staff.
Arizona this season is smarter, taller, stronger and faster than any Wildcat team in years. The best is yet to come.
After a short Holiday break, the real season starts and appropriately against the other in-state rival, the Sun Devils come knocking at the door December 30th at McKale Center.