Arizona women’s basketball (12-13, 4-10) broke its losing streak with a 61-52 victory over Utah (14-11, 5-9) Sunday evening at McKale Center.
Senior Davellyn Whyte (Phoenix, Ariz.) had 21 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists to lead the Wildcats, while junior Carissa Crutchfield (Ft. Gibson, Okla.) had nine points, five rebounds, six assists and only one turnover.
Junior Alli Gloyd (Phoenix, Ariz.) added eight points and nine rebounds for Arizona.
As a team, the Wildcats forced 19 turnovers, turning them into 28 points and outscored Utah on the fast break, 8-to-2. Arizona only committed 11 turnovers and shot 16 free throws to the Utes’ eight.
“To get one today in the fashion we did, you can see it in the stat sheet,” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “You can see that this is what we have been talking about the whole time and we make that happen and the result was a win. So it feels really good.”
In the first half, Utah came out strong and scored the first four points, but Arizona responded with an 18-0 run to take an 18-4 lead. For the rest of the half, the Utes went on short runs, but the Wildcats had answers and went into the locker rooms with a 35-24 advantage.
In the second half, Utah had a few short runs, but the Wildcats never allowed any more than six unanswered points. Arizona took a 12-point lead with five minutes remaining, but the Utes hit back-to-back threes to narrow the lead to within seven with two minutes left. The Wildcats used the lead to turn up the heat on the defensive end, connected on free throws and took the game, 61-52.
Junior Michelle Plouffe led the Utes with 21 points and 16 rebounds, while junior Taryn Wicijowski had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats will have a quick turnaround to prepare for Rivalry Week as they will take on in-state rival Arizona State on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at McKale Center. Arizona will play ASU again on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. Fans wishing to attend can obtain more information here: http://www.arizonawildcats.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/011513aaa.html.
For complete results and continued coverage of Arizona women’s basketball, please visit www.ArizonaWildcats.com, or follow @ArizonaWBBall on Twitter.
Coach Butts Quotes
Coach Butts Opening Statement:
“It feels a lot better sitting here after a win than a loss. Finally breaking that losing streak was important for us. But the way we did it was very important, especially on offense. I thought last game, our team did enough on the defensive end, but not on offense. Today, we had only 11 turnovers and that is key for us. We forced them to turn the ball over and kept most of those possessions rather than giving it back. We had 15 assists and 23 made shots, so we were sharing the ball a lot better. Anytime you get that kind of effort offensively, as well as defensively, I like our chances.”
On offense forcing turnovers:
“We were more patient offensively. A lot of turnovers came from our errors, being impatient with the shot clock. Today we did a much better job being patient with our offense.”
On execution or effort that being the reason for great defensive performance:
“Our team has been gradually improving over the last three games, starting with Cal. In the game vs. Cal, we played really well. They just made a few more plays than us. Our previous game against Colorado, I thought we did enough defensively to win the game, but we were all over the place offensively, turning the ball over and not making passes. Today’s game, we played well on both sides of the court.”
On Davellyn Whyte’s performance:
“I thought she played really well today, especially on the offensive end. She stayed solid all game. She made an effort play in the first half that was pretty amazing. We turned the ball over and she sprinted back to pull the ball out to prevent them scoring two points. She did a lot of good things today, she lead a lot better.”
On Arizona, ASU Rivalry:
“People are so passionate about the rivalry, and I love that. I’m from the South and I’ve experienced a lot of rivalries. But for this one, it’s just amazing about the things that you hear, some of which I can’t share with you, but the fans are pretty passionate and I really enjoy that.”
On The first five minutes of the game:
“Carissa Crutchfield was a big reason for that. She really got us going, she was aggressive in transition, and she attacked early on the offensive end. We made some plays early, we turned them over. I think putting that pressure on them made it difficult.”
On the view of the team:
“As a coach, you certainly want to win games and we haven’t been playing well. To get one today in the fashion we did, you can see it in the stat sheet. You can see that this is what we have been talking about the whole time and we make that happen and the result was a win. So it feels really good.”
On today’s win being a turning point:
“It feels good to get the win. You never want to look too far ahead, so it was a turning point for us. We are going right into ASU on Tuesday and that’s about as far as we’ll look.”
On playing ASU back to back:
“We have never played our rival back-to-back, but at some point everyone has to do it. So we will see how it works out, but I think it will be fine. Anytime you are playing your rival, it’s always interesting anyway and certainly it will be when you have to go Tuesday and right back again. So we will see how it goes.”
“It helps us a lot because usually we dig ourselves in a hole that is too deep and when we start to get our rhythm and start playing well, it’s usually too late. Having that little cushion in the beginning of the game helped us with the little mistakes and turnovers we made throughout the game.”
On extra energy for today’s game:
“We had a little extra pep in our step in the beginning and we executed like we’ve been practicing. We put two and two together. That’s why we jumped out early.”
On frustration of the eight-prior losses:
“It’s been very frustrating. But at the same time sometimes you have to get knocked down to the bottom to get back up and we’ve been at the bottom a little too long and we’re tired of it. So now it shows what we are capable of, if we sustain enough the whole game so getting momentum, especially going into ASU, should really help us.”
On getting ahead of Utah in the first five minutes of the game:
“Pushing the ball in transition and finding shooters. It’s just trying to make stuff easy in the beginning. It helps us to become more aggressive throughout the whole game. If we can keep it up, it helps us until the end.
On what won them the game:
“We stayed together and played aggressive. Everyone was aggressive at some point.”
On this game being a new start since ending losing streak:
“It’s been frustrating. It’s just going to help us get into the next game. Everyone needs to stay together.”