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Arizona led by upperclassmen in final exhibition win

Photo by Simon Asher

If Arizona’s first exhibition game was about introducing the fan base to the incoming freshman, the second was a showcase for the upperclassmen. Dominique McBryde, Aari McDonald and Lucia Alonso led the way for the returners in a 78-41 victory over the Western New Mexico Mustangs.

McBryde showed that she has more than an “old man’s game,” shooting from inside and out, corralling a steal, getting a block, and going 2-for-2 from the free throw line in the first half.

“I think that’s a compliment no matter how people take it,” McBryde said. “You hear people talk about my ‘old man’s game.’ I think I’m just very patient. I have a lot of experience, so just a lot of knowledge and a high basketball IQ. Today, I think with it just being a high-low game, I really wanted to bring out some intensity.”

McBryde’s Achilles heel was foul trouble. She went to the bench in the third with four fouls, ending her night with 17 points on 7-for-11 from the field, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

McBryde’s game high 17 points tied her with teammate Aari McDonald. McDonald started off shaky, going 1-for-7 from the field and 0-for-4 from three in the first half. By the end of the night, she had turned things around, shooting 50% from the field and dishing out four assists. As with last week, she struggled a bit with turnovers, ending the night with four.

In the opening exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico, the team’s struggles from the outside were hidden by a 3-for-3 night from Sam Thomas. Against Western New Mexico, Thomas sat out with a virus. Alonso stepped up early with the hot hand from distance and got the team on track. As a team, the Wildcats went 6-for-11 from three.

The freshman weren’t going to let anyone forget about them, though. Cate Reese’s presence on the floor was a constant distraction for the Mustangs. Reese had four rebounds in the first quarter, ending the night with a dozen.

Playing on her birthday, she celebrated with a double-double, putting up 11 points to go with her 12 boards. She also showed her skill passing out of the double team on a few occasions, including setting Alonso up for her second three-pointer.

Bryce Nixon showed improvement from the first exhibition, when she shot 29% from the field and hit only one of her outside shots for a total of five points on the night. Against WNMU, she went 75% from three, making three of her four shots from beyond the arc. She ended the night with 12 points, two assists and a block while only turning the ball over once.

The biggest concerns for coach Adia Barnes were lack of consistent effort and turnovers. After turning the ball over 14 times last week, the Wildcats had another 14 turnover night against WNMU.

“I just wasn’t happy with our consistency tonight,” Barnes said. “I felt like we only played five or seven minutes of good basketball. I felt like the other times, we were just on our heels and we were getting just kind of beasted by them. They were just putting their head down and running through us and out-hustling us for rebounds and 50-50 balls.”

The Wildcats will start their regular season on Friday against Idaho State.