STATESBORO, Ga. - The University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team won its fourth-straight season opener in the Niya Butts era of head coaching with Friday night's victory over Georgia Southern, 88-46, at Statesboro's Hanner Fieldhouse.
"This was a good team win," Butts said. "Everyone who got into the game played well and did some good things. I wasn't happy with our turnovers but we shot the ball extremely well. I hope this continues to our game on Sunday. I think our defensive pressure really affected Georgia Southern. I think when we got relaxed defensively, they capitalized on some of our mistakes. I think our team did a great job getting after them defensively and our ball pressure was really good tonight."
Arizona had a productive night shooting, going 53.4 percent from the field (31-58), 62.5 percent from behind the arc (15-24) and 68.8 percent from the charity stripe (68.8 percent). Six different Wildcat players made a three-point basket as junior guard Davellyn Whyte and senior guard Shanita Arnold paced with four each.
Whyte led all scorers with 17, Arnold had 16, sophomore guard Candice Warthen had 13 and freshman guard Erin Butler had 10. At the glass, UA outrebounded GSU, 34-25, including sophomore forward Erica Barnes' 10 boards. She finished the game with Arizona's first double-double of the season and 11 points.
The Wildcats forced the Eagles into 24 turnovers and scored 31 points off those mishaps. Barnes and Whyte combined for nine steals while Warthen and Arnold dished out 10 assists total.
Barnes, freshman center Aley Rohde, Warthen, freshman guard Layana White and Whyte got the starting nod for the Wildcats. Junior guard Lindsey Fearing had the most minutes off the UA bench with 21 followed closely by junior forward Cheshi Poston's 20. Arizona's bench chipped in with 36 points including freshman guard Erin Butler's three-of-three from three-point range.
Meredyth Frye led the Georgia Southern scorers with 12 points on 2-of-5 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. The Eagles struggled offensively, only shooting 35 percent from the field (14-40) and 28.6 percent from three-point range (2-7).
This weekend's games mark a homecoming for a few members of the Arizona women's basketball family. Butts hails from Americus, Warthen and video coordinator Jaamal Rhodes are from Warrenton, athletic trainer Bryce Sorrier is a native of Statesboro and assistant coach Brandy Manning attended Clark Atlanta University.
The Wildcats will continue their Peach State trip with a game at Georgia State, in Atlanta, on Sun., Nov. 13.