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Lucia Alonso gets on track as Arizona takes “no prisoners” vs UIW

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Lucia Alonso opened the season struggling with her shot. In four of the team’s first five games, the junior guard scored only three points.

Her coach never doubted that her shots would fall, though. The opening minutes of the Wildcats’ game against the University of the Incarnate Word showed why.

Alonso opened the game with a three. Two possessions later, it was another trey on the fastbreak. By the end of the first quarter, she was 4-4 from the field—all three-point shots. She would stay perfect until almost half-way through the second quarter.

At the end of the game, Alonso had put up 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting. It was only the second time she had scored in double figures over the first six games. She added four assists and a steal.

“I’m glad, because that’s the way Lucia can play every night,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “I’m just glad that she was aggressive in looking for her shots. That’s the Lucia I see every day in practice. So, for me, it’s not a surprise.”

Once again, Cate Reese was a major story. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Week had her third double-double of the young season. The dominant young forward shot 8-for-15 while pulling down 10 rebounds, getting a steal and adding one assist.

Reese’s 19 points didn’t lead the team, though. That was Aari McDonald, who said that the team went in prepared to “take no prisoners” against a winless UIW team.

McDonald came into the game tied as the nation’s leading scorer. Her 24 points were actually under her average. She added three assists and three steals, while her ability to drive to the basket forced the Cardinals to foul her seven times.

“Aari just does so many things,” Barnes said. “She was 1-for-6 from the three. Usually, she hits those threes, but she just does so many things that make us better. As you saw in the second quarter, when she’s out of the game, we kind of struggle.”

Both teams shot over 50% in the first quarter, but Arizona built a 31-16 lead simply by getting more shots off. The Wildcats went 11-19, including six made three-pointers, while the Cardinals were 7-13 with only one successful shot from distance.

From there, the bottom began to drop out from under UIW as Arizona picked up the defense. The Cardinals made only two shots in the second quarter, dropping their field goal percentage to 14.3% for the period.

As Barnes noted, the Wildcats came back to earth a bit on the offense in the second quarter. They went 6-for-20 over that period. The Cardinals couldn’t take advantage, scoring only seven points in the quarter. By the time the horn blew for the break, Arizona was up 43-23.

The Wildcats didn’t open as strongly in the second half as they did in the first. Over three minutes into the third quarter, they had scored only four points and turned the ball over twice.

The struggle didn’t last long. By the end of the quarter, they were once again shooting over 50% and had almost doubled up on UIW 61-31.

More importantly to Barnes, they were taking care of things on the defensive side of the ball. After allowing single digits in the second quarter, the Wildcats followed it up by allowing only eight points in the third.

“When you have Aari and Tee Tee (Starks) defensively, we are on lockdown mode,” Barnes said.

The Wildcats put the finishing touches on the 84-42 win shooting over 44% in the final quarter.

Arizona (5-1) next travels to San Diego to face San Diego State. That game will take place on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. MST.