No close game this time for Arizona, but the Wildcats are closer to finally returning home.
Arizona will try to put an end to the program’s longest losing streak since Adia Barnes endured a seven-game skid to end her second season at her alma mater in 2017-18.
Arizona (10-9, 2-5 Pac-12) lost Sunday for the fourth staight time, only this time it was not a nail-biter, in the 78-57 loss at Washington State.
“I think we looked really gassed,” Barnes said during the 1290-AM postgame show of her team getting outscored 44-26 in the second half.
The previous losses at Oregon State, Oregon and Washington were by three points or less.
The four-game losing streak is the longest since a four-game skid in 2018-19.
Incredibly, Barnes’ program did not lose more than three consecutive games in four straight seasons from 2019-2023.
Arizona, playing with eight players, will try to end its losing streak Friday night at 7 p.m, when the Wildcats play California (13-6, 3-4) at McKale Center.
“We have to figure it out,” Barnes said. “We’re not going to get any more players out there. I wish we could. We have to figure out how to sustain on these Sundays, figure out a way to pull them out and get some wins.”
Kailyn Gilbert had 23 points and 11 rebounds against Washington State (14-5, 3-3).
Esmery Martinez had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jada Williams finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Arizona outrebounded Washington State 40-39, the second straight game the Wildcats achieved the feat after four straight games they were outrebounded by an average of 16 a game against Colorado, Utah, Oregon State and Oregon.
“I think that one thing that I’m proud of our team is we did a much better job of rebounding,” Barnes said. “We had 14 offensive rebounds (against Washington State), and we outrebounded our last two opponents; (rebounding is) a really weak point for us. But now, it’s figuring out a way to keep that balance like we did in the first half and sustain it through fatigue the whole game.”
Arizona kept the game close through the first half, trailing 34-31 at halftime.
The Wildcats showed their aggressiveness by going to the free-throw line 12 times in the first half, making eight.
At the half, Martinez had 10 points and five rebounds and Gilbert posted nine points and six rebounds.
After Gilbert made two free thows with 5:00 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 43-42, Washington State scored 10 unanswered points.
The Cougars went on another 10-0 run close to the start of the fourth quarter to pull away for good.
“They’re better than we are right now,” Barnes said of the Cougars, who were led by double-doubles by veterans Charlisse Leger-Walker (10 points and 11 rebounds) and Bella Murekatete (16 points and 11 rebounds).
“They have played better basketball. They have experienced players. Every time we kind of made a run or did something, they really made us pay for it. So it was hard.”
Tara Wallack led the Cougars with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field.
Arizona shot 35.6 percent from the field, including a 1-of-10 performance from 3-point range.
Fifth-year senior Helena Pueyo struggled to find her rhythm with six points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field while missing all four of her shots from beyond the arc.
In her trip to Washington the last two games, Pueyo had a total of eight points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field (0 for 6 from 3-point range).
Barnes hopes a return to McKale Center will rejuvenate her players after a long couple of weeks in Oregon and Washington.
“Some of it is fatigue; it’s just tough,” Barnes said about her team’s struggles late against Washington State. “I mean, it is what it is. This is what we have and we have to figure out a way to get over the hump.”