Arizona’s misery at Maples Pavilion has now reached a 19-game losing streak over 21 years with Sunday’s 75-69 loss against No. 2 Stanford.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats (15-3, 5-3 Pac-12) have not won at Maples since Jan. 6, 2001, before many of the current were born.
In the rematch of the national championship game last April, Stanford (16-3, 7-0) had an unlikely catalyst to quell Arizona’s attempt to finally win at Palo Alto, Calif.
Reserve guard Jana Van Gytenbeek equaled her season total in 3-pointers made (six) and points (18) for the Cardinal, who have won 22 straight Pac-12 games.
Van Gytenbeek had extended playing time because regular sharpshooter Hannah Jump is out because of COVID-19 protocol.
Van Gytenbeek’s perimeter shooting matched with Cameron Brink’s dominance inside proved to be too much for Arizona.
“We can’t let role players come in off the bench and have great games,” said Adia Barnes, whose team was also burned from 3-point range in the fourth quarter at USC earlier this month by reserve Alyson Miura.
Barnes was also critical of Arizona’s defenders not “crowding” Brink and resorting into a one-on-one approach against the 6-foot-4 post player.
“We can’t let a great player like Cameron Brink go 10 for 12 (from the field) with 25 (points) and 15 (rebounds),” she said.
4Q | That ball movement 😍 @Benduyeaney1 with a triple!
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) January 30, 2022
Arizona was competitive throughout after Barnes mixed up her starting lineup and rotation.
Lauren Ware did not start and Helena Pueyo started in her place, giving Arizona a three-guard lineup (Shaina Pellington and Bendu Yeaney included) to match up better with the 6-1 Haley Jones being a primary ball-handler.
“I wanted to go smaller, because we were gonna have a difficult time with our starting lineup going against Haley as a point forward,” Barnes said. “(Jones) brings the ball up the court a lot. So starting small we felt we could match up with her and Bendu was effective. She only made two field goals.”
Jones finished with four points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field. She had seven rebounds and six assists.
Little-used reserve point guard Derin Erdogan was the first perimeter player off the bench for Barnes and she played six minutes in the first half. She finished with seven minutes overall and had two points. Entering the game, she averaged 4.7 minutes a game in her first two seasons.
“Derin’s done a tremendous job running our team in practices, controlling the tempo in practice and going against Shaina every day,” Barnes said. “She’s worked hard. She’s had tremendous practices. She’s earned the right to play.”
Cate Reese had a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds while playing with foul trouble throughout after she was whistled for two fouls in the first quarter.
Pellington had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Yeaney finished with 10 points with two blocks and two steals.
Sam Thomas was limited to only one 3-point attempt — which she made — and finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting with five assists.
Much like the NCAA title game in which Arizona rallied back from an 11-point, 10-point and nine-point deficit at different parts of the game, the Wildcats did not succumb easily again.
“We always play hard; we always fight,” Yeaney said about not allowing Stanford to pull away in front of the 3,479 fans in attendance. “We always want to fight, and I mean, it just didn’t go our way. When we’re hitting shots, they’re hitting shots. They just hit more shots than us.”
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) January 30, 2022
Arizona was down 43-33 early in the third quarter after allowing Stanford to score nine unanswered points dating to the second quarter.
That’s when Reese found her shooting touch from the perimeter and fueled Arizona’s comeback.
She made three shots from 3-point range in four possessions, engineering a 9-0 run on her own to cut the lead to 43-42 with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
Reese broke out of a 1-of-11 slump from 3-point range in the previous three games and finished 3 of 6. She is 15 of 53 from beyond the arc this season. Her previous high for a season was 13 last season when she was 13 of 32 in 27 games.
Stanford closed the quarter with a 10-2 run with seven points scored by Brink and a 3-pointer made by Van Gytenbeek to push the lead back to 55-46 going to the fourth quarter.
“They were isolating us inside; they did that from the first possession of the third quarter, just trying to go at us in the paint,” said Barnes, whose team also allowed 6-1 forward Francesca Belibi to make 4 of 5 shots in the paint.
“We didn’t really have an answer. I think we got out-muscled inside. But that’s a team thing. We don’t leave our post on an island. We have to dig a little bit better help a little bit more.”
Arizona again threatened, cutting the lead to 65-61 with 3:56 left on a jumper by Ware in the lane — her first points of the game.
But that’s as close as the Wildcats would get as Stanford went on a 7-2 run to take a 72-63 lead with 1:51 remaining.
The Wildcats will now focus on rival Oregon for Friday’s rematch from the controversial overtime loss Jan. 15 at Eugene, Ore., in which Barnes was reprimanded for complaining about the officiating and she allegedly got in a spat with counterpart Kelly Graves.
Arizona is promoting the game as a “White Out,” encouraging fans to wear white.
“We just want to protect home court,” Yeaney said. “With Oregon, we lost a tough one, so we’re gonna be all juiced up and ready to go for that game. Hopefully we get a sold-out McKale and everything.
“We’re just excited to get back home and be in our own beds and just have everything go back to normal for a week before we need to get back on the road.”
Arizona had to travel and return from Los Angeles for Wednesday’s game at UCLA before flying from Tucson to Palo Alto on Saturday. Friday’s scheduled game at Cal was postponed because of COVID-19 protocol, resulting in the extra travel back-and-forth from Tucson to California.
The Wildcats are slated to play their next four games in Arizona — against the Oregon schools next weekend at McKale before playing at ASU on Feb. 11 and again against the Sun Devils at McKale Center on Feb. 13.
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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.