LAS VEGAS — Cate Reese was not in uniform — but at least the arm sling was gone — and Ariyah Copeland did not play against Colorado because the Buffaloes utilize athletic Mya Hollingshed at the post.
Hollingshed showed she could extend to the perimeter nailing two 3-pointers, which further forced Adia Barnes into using mostly a smaller lineup in the 45-43 loss to the Buffaloes in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal game Thursday at Michelob Ultra Arena.
Playing a season-high 35 minutes, 6-foot-3 Lauren Ware was mobile enough inside to keep up despite getting whistled for four fouls.
Ware finished with a season-high 15 points — Arizona’s lone scorer in double figures — behind a 9-of-10 shooting performance from the free-throw line. She also had a team-high eight rebounds.
“I think that something I should be doing all the time,” Ware said. “With Cate out, obviously we have a big deficit in those two areas of scoring and rebounding. So the coaches have kind of put that on me to be more aggressive and take more good shots and be more aggressive on the offensive end and the defensive end as well, (also) with rebounding an on both ends.
“I think I’ve done a better job of that.”
HIGH RESPECT FOR DEPARTING ASU COACH CHARLI TURNER-THORNE
Barnes did not hear of the news of ASU coach Charli Turner-Thorne retiring after a 25-year career coaching the Sun Devils. Thomas raised her eyes in amazement when a reporter informed them during the press conference.
“I really respect Charli. She’s a really good coach and she’s a trailblazer in our profession,” Barnes said. “I love the fact that she does so many other things. Like, she’s a mom and she’s successful. She represents our game so well. She’s been a WBCA president, so she’s very involved in our game.
“Sad to see her go, for sure, but I think she’s had a great career. I love it when coaches go out on a high note, not necessarily winning a championship, but having success year after year, and kind of good go out on your terms. I’m surprised — I thought she had a couple more years in her — but you know, this is a hard job. It’s extremely stressful. I definitely have aged more this year than I have in awhile.”
Turner-Thorne had a 34-20 record against Arizona in her tenure starting in the 1996-97 season. The Sun Devils were 16-1 against the Wildcats from 2005-14.
SAM THOMAS HOMECOMING
Sam Thomas attended nearby Las Vegas Centennial High School before coming to Arizona in 2017 for her five-year career.
She played at home in the Pac-12 tournament at Las Vegas for the last time in front of family and friends here. Her younger sister Jade, who was unable to attend Saturday’s Senior Day because she was playing a game with UNLV, was in attendance.
“It was obviously great to play in front of my family,” Thomas said. “This was probably like the last game (Jade) will get to see me play.
“Super happy. It also felt like a home game just because of all the Tucson fans that came up, made this drive, flew down here. So just really appreciative of them that they were able to come support us.”
DECIDED ARIZONA CROWD EDGE
Arizona’s fans clearly outnumbered those from Colorado, making the atmosphere similar to a home game for Arizona.
But it paled in comparison to the game being at McKale Center. Colorado guard Kindyll Wetta agreed.
“We obviously went to Arizona this year and played there and this gym was nothing like that because they had way more fans at the Arizona gym,” Wetta said of the 7,506 who attended the game at McKale Center on Jan. 23 when Arizona pulled away to a 75-56 win.
“Yes, it’s a little bit intimidating but at the end of the day we just know that we have to get what we needed to do done and handle our business.”
REESE HAS NOT WORN ARM SLING “IN A WHILE”
Barnes mentioned that Reese has not worn the right arm sling “in a while.”
“I could have played her. Sometimes I look to the bench, like, ‘Oh, dang,’ you know?” Barnes said. “She’s doing well. We’re talking like 10 days since it happened (the dislocated right shoulder at Washington State on Feb. 20). The timing is not a good thing.”
Reese now has two to three weeks to strengthen her shoulder before the NCAA tournament begins March 18.
“The positive thing for us is there is time,” Barnes said. “(Three weeks) is a lot of time for people to get better and she will be better by then. She already started shooting and stuff, so we were all happy about that. So we’ll be full force soon.”
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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.