Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 6 Arizona Wildcats “gut out” 77-60 win over pesky New Mexico


Arizona withstood the challenge of Lauren Ware going down with a knee injury early in Wednesday’s win over North Dakota State and the Wildcats responded to New Mexico’s athleticism Sunday.

“We’ve had to gut out and find different ways to win,” said Adia Barnes, who is now only two wins shy of 100 wins at Arizona with a 98-66 record in six years. “We have to get better, obviously, but it is December and we’ll get better. I’m just proud of us and what we are doing right now.”

The Wildcats answered the bell again with their 77-60 win at McKale Center over a New Mexico team that is 8-4 and figures to be a contender in the Mountain West.

Arizona’s 3-point shooting fueled by reserve guard Madison Conner’s 5-of-10 performance was a zone buster, especially in the second half, against New Mexico’s perimeter quickness. Conner, a second-year player, finished with a career-high 15 points.

Madison Conner, the Bang the Drum honoree after Arizona’s win over New Mexico, said she takes many as 500 shots a day to sharpen her 3-point shooting skills (Arizona Athletics photo)

Pueyo, another reserve called upon by Adia Barnes to loosen the defense with her perimeter shooting, scored 11 points while making 3-of-7 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats are 9-0 and figure to stay at least No. 6 in the AP Top 25 poll heading to Flagstaff on Friday to play NAU and Pima College career scoring and assist holder JJ Nakai.

Ware is expected to miss that game and Sunday’s game against No. 11 Texas at Las Vegas. She may return, however, after 10 days depending the status of her right knee, according to Barnes.

Arizona had difficulty pulling away from the pesky Lobos — and Arizona’s fans were mostly dormant — until the third quarter.

The 8,884 in attendance at McKale Center finally stood and cheered loud when Pueyo made a 3-pointer with 2:28 left in the third quarter to give Arizona a 50-42 lead.

Pueyo’s 3-pointer, one of three she made, was part of a 10-0 run that built the Wildcats’ lead to 54-42 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

Sam Thomas‘ 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter capped a quarter in which Arizona outscored New Mexico 22-13. Thomas finished with 13 points, making 3 of 8 from beyond the arc, and had four assists.

The Wildcats led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter and never allowed New Mexico within 11 points.

Arizona led 35-32 at halftime after not being able to stretch its lead to more than six points in the first half.

The Wildcats took a 35-29 lead with 53 seconds left in the second quarter when Conner’s 3-pointer capped a sequence of seven unanswered points.

New Mexico’s Paula Reus responded with a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to close the first half scoring.

Conner, Cate Reese and Taylor Chavez combined for 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field in the first half. Their teammates were 4 of 19.

Chavez was 2 of 4 from 3-point range and Conner was 3 of 5.

Reese achieved her 18th career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Bendu Yeaney also scored in double figures with 10 points and she pulled down seven rebounds.

New Mexico’s athletic lineup consisting of mostly guards and wing players was effective against Arizona’s offensive execution with its 2-3 zone.

The Wildcats had trouble penetrating the zone or attacking it with a pass to the interior, resulting in many 3-point attempts.

Arizona tried 22 shots from beyond the arc and made six (27.3 percent).

The Wildcats finished making 27 of 68 shots from the field and were 13 of 36 from 3-point range.

Arizona’s trip to NAU on Friday is only the third time in the last 30 years the Wildcats will play in Flagstaff. The Wildcats last played there in the 2017-18 season and the Lumberjacks won 84-66.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

Comments
To Top