The Arizona Wildcats are still evolving 22 games into the season. That’s what happens under a first-year coach.
Senior Dejza James scored a career-high 18 points and senior Breanna Workman was the only other Wildcat to score double digits in the 79-65 loss to Oregon Friday night at McKale Center.
Workman added 14 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field.
One positive for Arizona, which is 11-11 overall and 2-9 in the Pac-12: During the past month the Wildcats believe they have created a defensive identity.
“We try to press in different ways,” first-year coach Adia Barnes said. “Our team is best when we are pressing.”
Barnes explained how the lack of depth on her team affects her game plan.
“You cannot play forty minutes like that,” she said. “We do not have the depth but that is something you will see when we are trying to manufacture points.”
Another challenge that Arizona faces is producing lineups that can score but can also get stops on defense.
“We need to have people fresh,” Barnes said. “Certain lineups are good defensively but we are not as solid offensively. Finding that balance has been hard.”
Barnes addressed her team’s offensive struggles specifically. Arizona went 3 of 15 from beyond the arc against Oregon (15-6, 5-6)
“We have a hard time shooting from the outside,” she said. “That was our weakness being exploited.”
Arizona was missing Taryn Griffey, who did not play due to injury. She gives the Wildcats more flexibility on offense.
“Taryn gives as that guard that can create her own shot and shoot the three very well,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats will be back on the McKale hardwood Sunday afternoon against Oregon State. Barnes likes the matchup for her team.
“We have an advantage with our athleticism and our transition game (but) Sydney Wiese is a great shooter and great off the dribble,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats will lean on their defense.
“They do not pound the ball inside,” Barnes said. “They have a really dynamic scorer. We will have to put more pressure on the ball.”
Barnes hopes the implementing the right game plan will help her team snap their five-game losing streak.
“I want to see the fruit of our labor,” Barnes said.