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What we learned in Arizona’s season-opening win over Idaho State

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Arizona took their season opener against Idaho State 71-46 in a game that was often sloppy, featuring numerous turnovers and fouls. The positives were the play of Cate Reese and the fact that the Wildcats won despite struggling at points in the game. On the less positive side, foul problems kept players like Dominique McBryde from being as effective as they could be.

Cate Reese is not afraid to carry the team

With everyone else struggling to make baskets in the first quarter, Cate Reese took it upon herself to get some points. With 2:53 left in the opening stanza and with Idaho State up 9-7, she took her first shot of the night and her first three-point attempt in an Arizona uniform.

She sank it to give the Wildcats their first lead.

The next trip down the floor, she put three more up to stretch the lead to 13-9. By the end of the first ten-minute period, she had ten points, four rebounds and an assist. Her team was up by 11.

She wasn’t afraid to shoot when the pressure was on, either. As the clock expired in the first, she hit a a two to stretch the lead to 11. In the second quarter, she decided to go one better. As time wound down to 0.5, she took the shot from beyond the arc.

Of course, it went in. As did many more shots, adding up to a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) in her regular season college debut.

“She’s so aggressive, confident, she doesn’t hold back, she’s not afraid, she has grit,” coach Adia Barnes said. “Those are things you can’t teach, and she brings that. So, I am not surprised.”

Arizona’s interior players need to address their foul trouble

With six to go in the first quarter, Dominique McBryde had a turnover on the offensive end, then compounded it with the foul on the defensive end. It was her second foul. In the final exhibition game, she had four fouls in less than three quarters.

After sitting the rest of the quarter, Barnes reinserted her into the line-up just after the nine-minute mark. The risk didn’t pay off. McBryde got a steal just under two minutes later, but was called for an offensive foul taking it to the basket.

The second half didn’t start any better, as McBryde picked up her fourth at the 8:44 mark. Things didn’t go much better for the rest of the interior players, either. Destiny Graham picked up her fourth with less than two minutes to go in the third, and Reese fouled out with just under four minutes left in the game.

“It’s a little concern,” Barnes said. “We’re not stopping our feet, and we’re kind of leaning into it. Just silly fouls, and a couple of offensive fouls. But those are things we can correct.

“I do like our aggressiveness, and with the way that we’re playing defense, we are going to foul a little bit more,” she added. “But I don’t like all the fouls off screens. So, that’s an adjustment we have to make.”

“I have to look at the film, because I don’t know why it was so much. There were some I felt were kind of questionable.”

The partisan Arizona fans certainly agreed with her about that.

Rebounding and turnovers are still an issue

After the final exhibition, Barnes expressed her displeasure with both the rebounding effort and turnovers from her team. Those problems resurfaced against the Bengals.

Perhaps because of the long periods of time McBryde sat on the bench or the fact that Reese spent a good deal of the game playing away from the basket, Arizona struggled to rebound at times. In fact, Idaho State out-rebounded the Wildcats in the first half 19-17.

When they weren’t letting the Big Sky school out-rebound them, the Wildcats were struggling to take care of the ball. They already had nine turnovers by the end of the first half, and ended the night with an eye-popping 23. After turning the ball over 14 times in each of the exhibition game, that’s certainly an area of concern.

The Wildcats hope those concerns will be addressed by the time Loyola Marymount comes to town on Tuesday. The Lions beat Arizona by 14 points last year, as well as taking care of UCLA earlier this week.