Arizona women’s basketball (4-10, 0-3) fell to UCLA (8-8, 2-2), 67-61 on Friday night at McKale Center.
Freshman LaBrittney Jones scored a career-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a 4-of-5 mark from the free-throw line.
Junior Candice Warthen joined Jones in double-digits with 10 points.
Senior Carissa Crutchfield dished out six assists to tie her season-high, recorded at Michigan in Arizona’s second game of the season.
As a team, the Wildcats posted a season-high 10 steals and outscored UCLA’s bench, 20-11. The Bruins outrebounded UA, 44-35 and posted 26 second-chance points to Arizona’s six.
“Again, it comes down to two or three possessions and we don’t do enough,” Arizona Head Coach Niya Butts said. “We lost by six and if we finish our defense with a rebound, we are sitting here having a different conversation.”
In the first half, UCLA led by as many as 15, but Arizona rallied and closed the half on a 14-6 run, including six points by senior Erica Barnes.
In the second half, Arizona pulled within two points, but the Bruins hit consecutive three pointers down the stretch to seal the win.
“We were close and we know we need to get over this hump,” Crutchfield said. “We’re losing these games by a couple points and we need to learn how to finish. We’re close and we know that, so we’ll get there.”
Senior Thea Lemberger led UCLA with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Wildcats will return to McKale Center on Sunday, Jan. 12 to take on USC at 2 p.m. Former standout Davellyn Whyte will be inducted into the Ring of Honor prior to the game.
For complete results and continued coverage of Arizona women’s basketball, visit ArizonaWildcats.com, or follow on Twitter @ArizonaWBBall.
Head Coach Niya Butts
On the game:
“Obviously, it’s rough. Credit to UCLA for taking care of business and doing enough to win this basketball game. Again, it comes down to two or three possessions and we don’t do enough. We gave up 14 offensive rebounds and they had 26 second chance points. We lost by six and if we finish our defense with a rebound, we are sitting here having a different conversation.”
On rebounding at halftime:
“We challenged Erica (Barnes), and she came out in the second half and got seven rebounds after having zero in the first half. She rebounded much better in the second half, but we dug ourselves in too big of a hole. I think we decided to play probably around the last six minutes of the first half, but at that point they had a little bit of momentum. We came back out and closed the gap, but then we made a couple mistakes. We missed tip shots right at the basket. We had a couple missed lay-ups and stuff like that, but as their coach I am going to watch film and make sure that if I need to make changes and do some different stuff, I take a look at that. We as a staff are trying to get us in the best possible position that we can be in, so I have to make sure we are doing everything we need to do. We have to finish better and be more physical and tough inside, but overall I thought the stat sheet was pretty similar across the board except for when you get to the rebounding category and the second chance points.”
On being frustrated by the close losses:
“We can’t allow it to get to that point. We are having a lot of difficulty closing them, so we have to make sure that we don’t dig ourselves in a hole early. That is why every possession is critical, because although it was a two possession game, it certainly didn’t just come down to those two. There were a lot of possessions before that, that we didn’t capitalize off of or we made critical mistakes and we certainly can’t do that”
On going into halftime.
“I felt better with what we started to do. I thought we took really good care of the basketball in the first half. In the second half, we had just two more turnovers, but they were at critical times when we could not have that happen. Our transition offense wasn’t that great. We had a couple times that we had numbers when we made the wrong decision and couldn’t get the play that we wanted. There were a lot of factors but I have to keep the team not only motivated, but I have to keep them encouraged, because I think that it can be tough when you are that close and haven’t been able to close the door on it. We just have to find different ways to get the best out of it.”
On LaBrittney Jones at the free throw line:
“She is our best free throw shooter right now. She takes her time at the line and she follows through with her shot. As far as a career high goes, I guarantee you that she would turn it over for a win. If she only scored six points and we won, she would be happier because she is that big of a competitor, and so good for her, but when you don’t get the win, it certainly doesn’t feel as good to accomplish an individual goal.”
Senior guard Carissa Crutchfield
On what team takes away from game:
“We were close and we know we need to get over this hump. We’re losing these games by a couple points and we need to learn how to finish. We’re close and we know that, so we’ll get there.”
On how to improve:
“We have to come out with a bang. We always come out slow in the first half, but we can’t do that anymore. We need to pick it up for our upcoming games.”
Freshman forward LaBrittney Jones
On what it feels like as a freshman to lose:
“Our team is frustrated about losing, but we need to keep pushing and get passed it. As a team we need to push to get over the hump.”
On what Coach Butts said at halftime:
“In the first half they outrebounded us by 10 boards, so Coach Butts told us to stop being soft and rebound the ball. We came out in the second half and started getting more rebounds.”
On how to improve:
“We have to take our time and figure out how to get out of the slump we are in. The games that we lose are close so once we figure that out, we’ll be okay.”