Arizona’s non-conference scheduling will feel like the Pac-12 this weekend when Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State visit McKale Center on Friday and Sunday.
The Wildcats’ 6:30 p.m. game Friday against Loyola Marymount will be followed by a 2 p.m. game Sunday with Long Beach State.
The turnaround is similar to the Pac-12 season when Arizona traditionally plays on Friday and Sunday.
That’s the only similarity because the Pac-12 is one of the strongest conferences in the nation.
Loyola Marymount is 1-2 including a 91-43 loss at Washington State, and Long Beach State, once a women’s basketball power coached by Arizona legend Joan Bonvicini, is 1-1 with an 80-54 loss at Gonzaga.
Arizona averaged 6,731 fans in its first two games last week against Northern Arizona and Cal State Northridge, which is impressive because those opponents aren’t among the elite.
If the crowd continues with those type of attendance numbers against Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State, it will continue to show that Adia Barnes’ program has really caught on in Tucson.
Arizona — Adia Barnes is 112-74 in the seventh year of her career (all at Arizona). She is 92-34 since starting 20-40 in her first two seasons of rebuilding the program.
Loyola Marymount — Aarika Hughes is 13-20 in her second year and overall at Loyola Marymount. She has a background of playing at USC (2006-10). After serving as an assistant coach at New Mexico (2011-16) and New Mexico State (2016-17), she was an assistant at her alma mater USC from 2017-21. She was the associate head coach from 2019-21.
WHEN ARIZONA HAS THE BALL
— The Wildcats can play effectively in transition and have numerous scoring options in their 11-play rotation. They rank third in the nation in scoring offense with 100.0 points per game. An impressive seven players are averaging double-figure scoring after the first two games, led by Esmery Martinez’s 17.5 points per game.
— Martinez is also the best offensive rebounder with 10 followed by Cate Reese’s four. Martinez, vital in giving Arizona second and third opportunities, is averaging 10 rebounds a game overall.
— Arizona has shown the propensity to get to the free-throw line in its two games so far, going there 60 times and making 46 (76.7 percent).
— Loyola Marymount did not record a blocked shot in 73-70 overtime loss at Denver on Wednesday. The Lions can be quick to the ball, however, with 24 steals through three games, led by guard Ariel Johnson’s 1.6 a game.
WHEN LOYOLA MARYMOUNT HAS THE BALL
— Johnson, a Florida transfer, is averaging 12.7 points a game as the Lions’ focal point on offense. She has attempted the most field goals (35) on her team and made 15 for a shooting percentage of 41.7 percent.
— Loyola Marymount is struggling from 3-point range making 9 of 49 (18.4 percent) while Arizona is allowing opponents to shoot 16.2 percent (6 of 37) from beyond the arc.
— Arizona freshman guards Lemyah Hylton and Paris Clark have combined for 11 steals. Clark, who had six steals in the opener against NAU, sat out Sunday’s game against CSUN with a headache. She should be able to return against Loyola Marymount.
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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