The Arizona Wildcats outscored Grambling State 41-18 in the paint en route to a 73-46 victory over the Tigers at McKale Center on Tuesday night.
Scoring in the paint was part of the game plan for the Wildcats, who improved to 7-1 with the win under first-year coach Adia Barnes.
Grambling State (1-7) has two players who are 6’0″ compared to Arizona’s seven players who stand that height or taller. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 43-30.
“That was one of the main focuses just because they (Grambling State) are a small team,” said senior guard Malena Washington, who led the Wildcats with 13 points and had three assists.
Washington also explained how her team used its size to play defense. Grambling shot only 27.1 percent from the field compared to 50 percent for the Wildcats.
“One of our main focuses was switching 1 (guard) through 5 (center),” she said. “Our bigs can guard guards as well even though they are bigger so, that was part of the game plan.”
Senior forward Dejza James, who had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, brought up the team’s work on post play throughout the week in practice. She feels that the repetition showed in her team’s performance.
“As posts (taller inside players) we talked amongst ourselves … We knew they were going to be aggressive,” said James. “We knew that they were going to foul. So, its either your score or you get a foul and get to the free throw line so that was definitely in all of our minds.”
Despite Arizona’s performance inside the paint, Barnes still sees areas where her players need to improve.
“Our posts turn the ball over a lot (with) travels,” Barnes said of the Wildcats’ 21 turnovers. “They are not handling double-teams well. … We can’t have this many turnovers in a game.”
Arizona will look to correct mistakes when they face Kansas (4-5) on the road Saturday. Tipoff is at 11 a.m., Tucson time, at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
“The next challenge is Kansas on the road,” Barnes said. “That would be a good win if we are able to go into Kansas and get a win but it is going to be hard.”