Arizona Wildcats coach Adia Barnes had a message at halftime that allowed her team to pull away from San Diego in a 76-59 victory at McKale Center on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats scored 33 points in the third quarter and outscored the Toreros 49-26 overall in the second half to pull away. LaBrittney Jones led the Wildcats with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field with seven rebounds. JaLea Bennett added 17 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Barnes wanted her team to trust in what she and the coaching staff had instructed. They wanted have her players force San Diego to continue to take long-range shots.
“I wanted to stick to the game plan,” said Barnes, whose team improved to 6-1 overall. “They (San Diego) were for 1 for 15 in the second half on 3’s so I wanted to stick to the game plan. I knew they were going to hit a couple but I knew that that was not what they do.”
San Diego finished making only 5 of 25 attempts from 3-point range. Aubrey Ward-El led San Diego with 13 points but she shot 4 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
Taryn Griffey, one of Arizona’s point guards, did not play in the game in what Barnes described as a premeditated move because of a slight injury.
“That was something I knew,” Barnes said. “Taryn felt a little sore. I would rather just rest her. A little incident happened yesterday in practice so, she is fine.”
The Wildcats had to fight through adversity when another one of their main ball handlers — Melena Washington — had to go to the bench with foul trouble. That made the game more challenging for the Wildcats.
“We only had one ball handler on the floor and that was hard,” Barnes said. “We had some people kind of playing out of spots.”
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Barnes said sees big improvements in her team’s offense despite the fact Arizona committed 23 turnovers. Lucia Alonso’s seven assists helped to combat those miscues.
“I think you are starting to see better chemistry on offense,” Barnes said. “High-low, reads, backdoors, that is the offense starting to come together.”
Barnes also had positive feedback for her entire team but pointed out reserve guard Breanna Workman steady performance in 30 minutes with 12 points, six rebounds and two steals.
“She came in and ran the offense,” Barnes said. “She was phenomenal on defense. She had not played in a couple games. She came in and did her job. I am very proud of her.”