McKale Center was slowly beginning to fill up for the then No. 19 Arizona women’s basketball will host the Washington State University conference on Sunday, January 29th. The Wildcats starting lineup consisted of Shaina Pellington, Lauren Fields, Jade Loville, Esmery Martinez and Cate Reese.
After a slow start, Reese scored the first points of the game at 7:49 in the first quarter. Washington State responded quickly by sinking a layup and tying the score. At the first media break, the Cougars were up 5-51 in the quarter, 10-2. Martinez had a nice layup after a WSU turnover but was less than three minutes down in the first quarter. Martinez was then fouled and made both free throws with 2:18 left, making the score 10-9 Cougars. Martinez took charge and sank a nice three after a shaky pass from Madison Conner to help Arizona temporarily take the lead late in the first quarter. The result was 15-14 Washington State at the buzzer. The Wildcats had three points off the bench and four points in the paint. In comparison, the Cougars had five points off the bench and six points in the paint.
In the second quarter, Loville sank a three with 6:30 left. At the first media break of the quarter, with 4:32 in the quarter, Arizona won 22-19. Arizona seemed to struggle with aggression when Martinez was off the court. Martinez brings energy every time she gets close to the ball and tries to get her teammates to keep up with him. With the Wildcats, Martinez led the first half by 12 points, followed by Loville with five. Cougar players Ula Motuga and Bella Murekatete had seven points by the end of the first half and led their team. At halftime, the score was 29-27 in favor of Washington State, who beat Arizona 14-13 in the quarter.
At the start of the second half, head coach Adia Barnes chose the same starting line-up as in the first half. Washington State scored the first points of the half with a layup on Arizona’s basket on a quick break. With 8:34 remaining in the third quarter, the Wildcats called a timeout with the score being 36-27 Cougars. Kailyn Gilbert set off a goal run with a nice three at 2:58 in the third quarter. A personal foul was inflicted on WSU’s Jessica Clarke for the second time in a minute of the game, and Conner took both free throws for the Washington State score to make it 45-38. The crowd grew louder as Conner sunk a three-pointer for charity at 1:27 in the third quarter. Arizona fans were on their feet in the final minute of the third quarter. Conner fed on the energy and sank another three that tied the game 46-46 with 42 seconds remaining in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter, the Cougars led the Wildcats by two points. The Wildcats had 17 points from the bank and four points in the paint. Washington State had five points off the bench and 12 points in the color. It felt like the Wildcats woke up and were ready to compete in the final quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, a deliberate foul was dealt to Martinez, resulting in two free throws from WSU. The gap continued to widen until Conner hit another three at 5:34 in the game. This brought the score to 58-53 Washington State. The Wildcats were unable to maintain a lead against WSU and trailed for the remainder of the game. Barnes called a timeout with 2:30 in play when the score was 60-53 Cougars. WSU had a 46.4% point share compared to the Wildcats, who only averaged 34.7%. The Washington State Cougars beat Arizona 70-59 at the McKale Center. That loss drops Arizona to 22nd in the AP poll.
The Wildcats will spend the upcoming weekend in Los Angeles, playing UCLA on Friday, February 3rd and USC on Sunday, February 5th.
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