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Stanford bounces back with dominant win over Arizona women’s basketball

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 02 Women’s Arizona at Stanford Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All that ailed them last week—rebounding and fouls, in particular—was healed by the time Stanford arrived in Tucson. The Cardinal dominated from the opening tip to defeat Arizona women’s basketball 84-60 in front of 9,868 fans in McKale Center.

“I do apologize to all the fans for us not fighting a little bit more,” Barnes said. “It’s one thing losing, but not in the manner that we lost at home. I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

The Cardinal ended their game against Washington last weekend with just 24 rebounds. For a team that averages almost 50, it was a huge drop. That problem had been fixed by Thursday when they had 15 in the first quarter while Arizona grabbed just seven. Stanfod won the battle of the boards 45 to 27.

Arizona head coach Adia Barnes went with a more offensive-oriented team for much of the second half of the game. Helena Pueyo played 33 minutes, Cate Reese played 31, Esmery Martinez played 26, and Madi Conner was on the floor for 20. Meanwhile, Lauren Fields was on the floor for just 18 and Shaina Pellington for just 17.

It didn’t help. Arizona wasn’t able to score and wasn’t able to stop Stanford on the other end, either, regardless of who was on the floor. The Wildcats shot just 35.8 percent for the game while giving up 59.3 percent shooting to the Cardinal.

Barnes tried several different lineups throughout the game, but none seemed to work. In the third quarter, she started with a lineup of Pellington, Pueyo, Conner, Reese and Martinez. The Cardinal pulled away quickly, turning an 11-point halftime lead into a 27-point lead with just under 3:30 to go in the period.

“I was trying to see if someone can bring us some different type of energy,” Barnes said. “I think Madi has done a really good job of bringing energy, but that lineup was not successful. In the third quarter, I think that at one point they had 19 possessions and 24 points. So that wasn’t a lineup to get stops. But I think that Shaina is the catalyst on our defense. She’s got to press the ball, and she’s capable of doing that and we need that from her. And some other people have to step up. I think it’s time. It’s go time. We have six games left in the regular season, so it is not time to sit back and wait or just predicate everything off offense. You gotta guard to win games. You have to guard and you have to rebound.”

Barnes said that she’s still searching for a combination of players that can get back to the basics, the “Arizona identity.” To her, that’s still defense.

Only Reese, Martinez, and Paris Clark ended in double digits for the Wildcats with 10 points each. Martinez also had six rebounds.

Reese moved past Aari McDonald in career made field goals with 718 total. She is now third in program history.

Clark was a spark both on offense and defense. The freshman guard played over 14 minutes—more than she’s played in the last three games combined. Having such irregular playing time hasn’t been an easy process for the former McDonald’s All-American.

“I think it’s just a learning lesson,” Clark said. “It’s just preparing me, facing adversity but I just always stay ready.”

That ability of Clark to always stay ready was one of the few things Barnes had praise for after the loss.

“She showed that today,” Barnes said. “Again.”

Barnes didn’t think Clark was perfect, but she did see the kind of heart she wants to see in others.

“If you’re going hard, you can live with those mistakes,” Barnes said. “But when you’re not fighting, you’re not talking, it’s miscommunication, not sprinting back. Those are effort things. On makes. They probably had 10 points off of makes and outrunning us...That is effort and attention to detail, and that’s not acceptable. Not for a top 20 team.”

With the game out of hand, Barnes was able to get time for her young players. The game ended with Conner joining freshmen Clark, Maya Nnaji, Kailyn Gilbert, and Lemyah Hylton on the floor for the Wildcats.

According to the coach, it wasn’t just her freshmen who need to learn, though. She wants more dedication from her older players.

“We’re gonna learn from it, but you don’t want to get your ass kicked to learn,” Barnes said.