TEMPE, Ariz. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team suffered its first Pac-10 loss of the season at the hands of its biggest rival tonight, falling 69-47 at Arizona State. With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 10-3 on the season and 2-1 in Pac-10 play.
Arizona shot 44 percent from the field, 27 percent from three-point range and just 32 percent from the free throw line on the game. Arizona State connected on 50 percent of its shots from the field, 20 percent from beyond the arc and 54 percent from the charity stripe. The Wildcats were out-rebounded 37 to 27 and committed a season-high 28 turnovers on the game.
Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler led all players with 26 points. She also added six rebounds. Junior Natalie Jones pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
“We didn’t play with a lot of heart,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “Our inside game was horrible. We had too many turnovers, we didn’t play well defensively, we didn’t execute on offense. And our free throw shooting was a joke. Thirty-one percent is horrible. The only bright spot was Dee-Dee.”
The first half was the story of runs, as ASU jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Arizona quickly tied it at four apiece. After both teams traded several baskets, the Sun Devils went on a 5-0 run to take a seven-point lead (14-7). The Wildcats later answered with five straight points to cut the Arizona State lead to two (16-14). ASU built its lead back to seven points before Wheeler scored at the 4:51 mark. It would be the Wildcats’ last basket of the half, as Arizona was outscored 12-0 during that time by the Sun Devils.
The 20 points is a first-half season low for Arizona, which was just 2-of-13 (15 percent) from the free throw line. The Wildcats connected on 41 percent from the field and were 0-for-4 from downtown. Arizona State, meanwhile, shot 52 percent from the field and 69 percent from the charity stripe. The Sun Devils also out-rebounded Arizona 20 to 14. Wheeler paced the Wildcats with eight points and four rebounds on the half.
After a Wheeler trey early in the second half, ASU went on a 9-0 run to take a 25-point lead and put the game out of reach for the Wildcats. Arizona then matched ASU bucket for bucket until late in the second when Wheeler left the game after knocking knees with ASU’s Carrie Buckner. When she returned, she scored back-to-back baskets and Arizona cut it back to 24. The final score was a 22-point deficit for the Wildcats.
Arizona shot 48 percent from the field, 43 percent from downtown and 67 percent from the free throw line on the half. The Wildcats were out-rebounded 17 to 13 and committed 17 turnovers on the half.
After three weeks on the road, the Wildcats return to the McKale Center for a 7 p.m. game against California this Friday, Jan. 7.