The Adia Barnes era got off to a positive start Sunday as the Arizona Wildcats won their first game with Barnes as head coach, a 74-59 win over Alcorn State at McKale Center.
“It’s awesome to have win number one,” said Barnes, the former Arizona standout who returned to lead the program. “It was a good challenge, playing against a really fast team and a team that is good at penetrating. It was a good test, and it showed some areas we need to get better in.”
Arizona’s Malena Washington made two shots early to help Arizona take a 4-0 lead. Alcorn State quickly called a timeout. The Wildcats held a 16-13 first-quarter lead.
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) November 14, 2016
Tia Sanders opened the second quarter with a three pointer for Alcorn State before Arizona went on an 8-0 run. The Wildcats held Alcorn State scoreless in the final two minutes of the half. Arizona’s Jalea Bennett made a layup with six seconds left to give Arizona a 32-24 halftime lead.
Arizona broke the game open in the third quarter with a 9-0 run. The Wildcats outscored Alcorn State 21-12 in that period.
Senior LaBrittney Jones scored a game-high 18 points for Arizona. She also blocked three shots, giving her 102 for her career.
LaBrittney Jones posts double-double as Arizona beats Alcorn State in regular season opener https://t.co/P0C1SflATx
— Wildcat Sports Now (@WildcatSN) November 14, 2016
Sophomore Destiny Graham added eight points, 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. Freshman Lucia Alonso added 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Sanders led Alcorn State with 13 points.
The Wildcats outrebounded the Braves 56-39 and blocked nine shots. They also made 12 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Alcorn State shot only 30 percent from the field. Arizona’s defense in the second half forced Alcorn State into shooting 26 percent.
Despite the significant win in her first game as a head coach, Barnes saw some deficiencies in her team’s performance that she would like to address. The Wildcats persevered through 21 turnovers in the game.
“We were letting their defense dictate what we do.” said Barnes, who has a strategy for making her players improve. “One of the best teachers is (game) film because it does not lie.”
Arizona next faces George Mason in Fairfax, Va., on Friday. The tip is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tucson time.