The Arizona Wildcats came up short against Washington 90-73 Friday night at McKale Center in head coach Adia Barnes’ first game against the Huskies after being their assistant coach for five seasons.
“I am really happy with the fight from my team,” said Barnes. “I thought we never gave up.”
She noted that her knowledge of Washington’s playing style helped her team’s preparation leading up to the game. However, Barnes explained that advanced knowledge is only one piece to the puzzle.
“It is a tremendous advantage, but you still have to guard it and defend it,” she said.
Despite the loss, Barnes is pleased with her team’s attitude.
“We may not be the biggest on the perimeter but we are playing with heart,” she said. “We are playing with fight. That is all I can ask for.”
In contrast to Arizona’s inspired play, Washington’s two overly aggressive plays coupled with arguing with the game officials, led to two technical fouls that gave the Wildcats free throw opportunities and possession.
Barnes did not have a problem with Washington’s style of play. In her eyes, it is part of the game.
“Any time you are chippy with the referees, it happens,” she said. “It is just basketball (so) emotions fly.”
UW's Kelsey Plum: "We're playing against our old coach. It was fun." Talked about Barnes spending a lot of time working with players.
Senior LaBrittney Jones, who led the Wildcats with 20 points, saw those plays as positive ones for her team.
“It was a momentum shift,” Jones said. “We got to the free-throw line. We got the ball back and scored. I think that was a big momentum changer for us.”
The result of the game was not what Barnes wanted, but she saw a player who she had a hand in bringing to Washington make history when senior Kelsey Plum became the first Pac-12 player, men’s or women’s, to score 3,000 points in a career since Cheryl Miller in 1986.
One of the Washington players was in tears approaching Barnes on the hand-shake line.
Although Barnes was not happy that the history was made at her team’s expense, she admires Plum’s talent.
“She is one of the hardest working players that I have ever been around,” Barnes said. “No one works harder than her.”
The Wildcats will have a quick turnaround. They take on Washington State Sunday at noon at McKale. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
In this matchup, Arizona will look to develop a strategy to combat the Cougars’ defense rather than focusing on an individual player.
“A strategy would be to run so, they cannot get set up in that matchup (zone),” Barnes said.