Freshman sensations Jada Williams and Breya Cunningham and Arizona’s 3-point shooting were impressive Thursday night at McKale Center in the Wildcats’ return to the court following Saturday’s 19-point loss at UNLV.
Williams had a season-high 15 points and Arizona’s 10 3-pointers equaled what the Wildcats made in their three previous games combined in the 81-38 victory Thursday night over UC San Diego at McKale Center.
Cunningham, a McDonald’s All-American, had her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
She also led the Wildcats (7-2) with four assists.
Williams, another McDonald’s All-American, also contributed five steals after producing four in the eight earlier games this season.
“I thought Jada always worked hard and brought us great energy,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said on the 1290-AM postgame show. “I knew this is Jada. She was gonna make shots. I didn’t care if she was cold for a couple games because I believe in her.
“And those are shots we want to take and she hit those shots today but that’s what she’s capable of doing. I think the things you don’t question about her is her effort, her intensity, her communication –those are all the things that we value and need. I think she brought that I think she did a great job.”
Arizona’s 10-of-20 shooting performance from beyond the arc on Thursday comes after the Wildcats were 29 of 136 (21.3 percent) in their earlier eight games combined before Thursday.
The Wildcats were 10 of 54 beyond the arc in the previous three games, including a 2-of-15 showing in the 72-53 loss at UNLV.
“I think that they were open threes after ball reversals; I can live with that,” Barnes said. “I don’t want one-pass threes. It’s not our strength. We came into the game shooting 20 percent from the three but I am perfectly fine with players that can shoot threes after ball reversal, after movement, taking open threes, or Courtney (Blakeley), Kailyn (Gilbert) or Jada penetrating, collapsing the defense and taking open threes. Those are the threes I’m good with.”
Arizona’s defense was also stifling against UCSD, led by Williams’ five steals and Cunningham’s three blocked shots.
GIlbert also had three steals to go with her 11 points.
Arizona took control of the game in the second quarter when it outscored UCSD 30-10 to take a 42-17 lead at halftime.
Williams had 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and UCSD was limited to 2-of-9 shooting from the field with 10 turnovers in that quarter.
UCSD (3-6) scored nearly 50 percent less than its season scoring average of 66 points.
“Overall, it’s just a better defensive performance, but the things that concern me last game (against UNLV) were the lack of 50-50 balls, the lack of intensity, lack of boxing out,” Barnes said. “We have to box out better. It is something we’re gonna work on every day.
“Post-entry, boxing out and 50-50 balls. That’s effort. We had that effort today that we had we didn’t have the last couple of weeks.”
In Arizona’s two losses against Ole Miss and UNLV, the Wildcats were outrebounded, including 42-29 by UNLV on Saturday.
The Wildcats beat UCSD on the boards 34-25 and outscored the Tritons 26-3 in second-chance points.
Arizona will next face unbeaten Texas (10-0) at McKale Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Longhorns are ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 poll this week.