The Arizona Wildcats implemented a full-court press defense to keep the game within reach but they fell to No. 11 Oregon State 65-57 Sunday afternoon at the McKale Center.
After trailing 32-25 at halftime, the Wildcats used a full-court press defensive exclusively in the second half. Arizona finished with nine steals. At times Arizona’s pressure defense left them vulnerable to giving up lay ups in defensive transition sequences especially off the Wildcats’ made baskets.
“At times we struggled a little bit,” coach Adia Barnes said. “They push the ball faster than you think they do.”
During the final three minutes, the Wildcats jumped the passing lane on every rotation of the ball in the hopes of getting a steal. After allowing two seconds to come off the clock on each inbound play, Arizona was forced to intentionally foul in order to stop the clock.
“We were trying to foul specific people,” Barnes said. “You have to do what you have to do.”
Additionally, the Wildcats were forced to speed up their own offense in the fourth quarter after trailing 46-38 at the end of three. However, the Beavers used a zone to stifle the Wildcats’ attack.
“They went into a 2-3 (zone) … in a 2-3 it is hard to score fast because we do not have great outside shooters,” Barnes said.
She was pleased that her team was able to shut down Sydney Wiese, who is widely regarded as Oregon State’s best player. Weise finished with 10 points going 2 of 7 from the field.
“Sydney Weise was not able to control the game,” Barnes said. “We put a lot of pressure on her and made other people make decisions.”
Barnes was satisfied with her team’s effort.
“They fought hard,” she said. “They never gave up. The look in their eyes was wanting to win the game. They never thought there was a doubt. They rallied and tried.”
Barnes noted senior Breanna Workman’s performance was one that allowed her team to create defensive pressure.
“Breana Workman was strong inside making plays,” Barnes said. “She did so many great things she was pressing well. I proud of the way they (all) battled.”
Workman explained that she took what the defense gave her.
“Most teams sag on us,” Workman said. “Just squaring up seeing what I have knowing when to attack the gaps.”
Barnes explained that her team could have done a better job attacking their defenders in the paint. Arizona went 4 of 6 from the free throw line.
“We got to the basket and did not assert ourselves we did not go into the contact,” Barnes said. “That is why we did not get to the free throw line a lot.”
Barnes sees a change in her team’s strategical approach to the game.
“They were able to translate and do it (run set plays) in the game,” she said. “We were not able to do that a couple months ago… They are buying into it, believing and, trying their best.”
Barnes sees improvement in her team’s footwork in the paint. She credits assistant coach Salvo Cappa, who works with the post players.
“We have been working on jump stopping and pivoting,” Barnes said.
Barnes explained that on occasion even making the right decisions will not be enough to win a game.
“Sometimes we run some really good offense then the shots do not go,” Barnes said.