No. 14 Arizona women cover trip to The Pit to pose as New Mexico business trip

Arizona fourth-year player Helena Pueyo was voted captain by Adia Barnes and her coaching staff last week (Stephanie van Latum/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

ARIZONA-NEW MEXICO WILL BE TELEVISED LIVE BY MOUNTAIN WEST NETWORK AND RADIO LIVE BY KTUC 1400-AM

A sort of “air strike” for the Arizona No. 14 women’s basketball program, which plays Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in New Mexico at The Pit after landing in Albuquerque at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The late Dick Tomey notoriously successful overnight stays for Saturday games following his late Friday arrival.

These isolated ventures are not vacations, they are purely business trips.

Adia Barnes’ The program has started 6-0 for the fourth straight year.

Arizona, usually known for its defense, is one of the nation’s top five offenses going into the weekend, averaging 90.0 points per game. The Wildcats have not less than 81 points this season.

Fourth year player Helena Puyopassive offensive in recent years, ranks fourth nationally in points per shot on goal with 1.68 and 20th in the country in three-point percentage with 62.5 percent.

Pueyo scored 22 points in 9-of-12 shooting for her first 20-point game of her career as the Wildcats beat San Diego 86-60 away last week.

Following that performance, she was recently named team captain by Barnes and her staff, further underscoring Pueyo’s responsibility to be vocal and more active.

In the 26-point win over the Bullfighters, Arizona has beaten five of its six opponents by 20 points or more this season.

Kailyn Gilbert was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Nov. 28 after a 25-point performance against Cal Baptist when the Wildcats were in San Diego last week. She scored an average of 17.5 points over the weekend. Unbelievable – she is the first wildcat to win this award since Cat Reese in the 2018/19 season.

Arizona forced 23 turnovers against San Diego, 16 of them in the first half, to continue their streak of more than 20 turnovers in every game this season.

Maya Nnaji never missed a shot from the field against San Diego and finished on a 7-of-7 performance with 16 points. She is one of eight players and two freshmen this season to shoot 100 percent with at least seven shots.

NEW MEXICO NOTES

The Lobos were on a three-game winning streak on Sunday – the first time they have hosted a ranked opponent since 2017. They upset Marquette #16 on November 13, 2017, 88-87.

The game with the Wildcats is the second part of a home game with Arizona in which the Lobos played the Wildcats in Tucson last season. Arizona won that game 77-60 at the McKale Center last December.

New Mexico has three players scoring in double digits, led by Shaiquel McGruders 14.0 points per game, with McGruder also leading in rebounds per game with 8.4.

McGruder vs Arizonas Esmery Martinez (13.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game) will be a good matchup.

New Mexico is 4-5 at home to Arizona, with the last meeting being a 58-53 loss on December 8, 2012.

Both teams are in the NCAA’s top 15 for steals per game, with Arizona in 15th place (13.0 per game) and New Mexico in ninth place with 13.7 per game. The Lobos have recorded double-digit steals in all seven games with Arizona in all but one of their six games.

In their last game, the Lobos opened the third quarter with a 16-0 run and ended their road trip on Tuesday with a 72-55 win over Nicholls.

UNM beat Nicholls 25-11 in the third quarter and 42-25 in the final 20 minutes, using defensive pressure to force eight steals combined and 13 points from turnover in the third and fourth quarters.

Amaya BrownMcGruder and La Tascya Duff All had strong performances, with Duff finishing with 20 points, a team-high five assists and three steals, McGruder with a double-double behind 14 rebounds and 15 points and three blocks, and Brown with 15 points, a career-high five Steals, one block and seven rebounds.

Of Duff’s 20 points, 18 came to threes and it was the 44th career game in which Duff had scored multiple threes and the 16th time she had scored 20 or more points.

McGruder has 10 career doubles, including two this season.

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Javier Morales, Publisher, Writer and Editor of ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com, is a past Arizona Press Club honoree. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News, and Baseball America, among many other publications. He is also the author of the book The Highest Form of Living, available on Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is currently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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