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Arizona rebounds from first loss, beats Seattle in Hawai’i

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

After Arizona (2-1) came out flat in their last game, struggling to a 66-64 loss against Loyola Marymount, they needed to regain confidence. A 84-54 win over Seattle University (1-3) in the Bank of Hawaii Classic was just what the doctor ordered.

In their last contest, point guard Aari McDonald was the only Wildcat in double figures, scoring 39 points. While it set a school record, coach Adia Barnes was emphatic that the team could not win that way.

Fortunately, McDonald didn’t have to try to carry her team alone this time out. She was once again the leading scorer for the Wildcats in Honolulu, putting up 25 on 11-17 shooting in just 24 minutes. This time, though, she had help.

Cate Reese recovered from a game where she struggled with both fouls and shooting to go 9-13 for 21 points. Senior Destiny Graham also scored in double digits, scoring 10 points in 19 minutes. Graham went a perfect 4-4 from the floor, including her only shot from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats had difficulties rebounding in the first half, out-rebounding the much smaller Redhawks by only one. They got after the boards in the second half, though, ending the game with a 36-25 edge in rebounding.

Arizona also improved both their assists and turnovers compared to previous games. Nineteen of the team’s 37 made field goals were assisted, with Lucia Alonso leading the way with nine.

After turning the ball over 23 times in their last contest, the Wildcats only gave the ball away ten times against the Redhawks. Alonso had just one turnover to go with her nine assists.

There were still signs of problems that had cropped up during the first two games. Both fouls and three point shooting have haunted Arizona early in the season, and they appeared again on Friday.

Dominique McBryde has struggled with fouls in both of the previous regular season games and during the exhibition season. This time out, she once again had four fouls.

Arizona was able to get around McBryde’s foul trouble because of the strong play of Semaj Smith. In just 15 minutes on the court, the freshman center had 8 points on 4-5 shooting and three blocks. She also pulled down three boards, including two on the offensive end.

As for shooting from distance, the Wildcats shot only 19.2% from three, going 5-26 as a team. Only McDonald at 2-4 and Graham at 1-1 shot better than 20%.

Arizona will get one more chance to compete in paradise when they face the University of Portland (2-0) at 3 p.m. MST on Sunday.