The past two days brought historically bad weather to Chicago that disrupted travel plans around the country, making Monday a long day for the Arizona Wildcats (3-0). They still pulled out the 82-50 victory against Chicago State (0-3) on Tuesday night. It just wasn’t a pretty one.
“I just felt it was so undisciplined as far as fouling,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes told Wildcats’ radio announcer Derrick Palmer after the game.
For the second time in just three games, the Wildcats sent their opponent to the free throw line far more than they went themselves. In their opening night game against North Dakota, Arizona shot only three foul shots while the visiting team went to the line 19 times. Against the Cougars, the Wildcats hit all 13 of their free throws, but their opponent went to the line 29 times.
While Barnes felt some of those whistles were questionable, she also thought her team put themselves in poor positions and did too much reaching. When the final horn sounded, Lucia Alonso and Sevval Gül each had four fouls. Dominique McBryde, Sam Thomas and Semaj Smith had three apiece.
“We have to know when to be aggressive and when to play just to contain,” she said in her postgame show.
Positioning was also a problem in rebounding where boxing out once again left something to be desired. Arizona only outrebounded the overmatched Chicago State by three, getting 35 to the home team’s 32. The problem from last year is still rearing its head despite the increased size of the Wildcats this season, and Barnes believes it’s a matter of mentality.
Despite the concerns, Arizona came away with the decisive victory. The problem was that they continued to have issues against a Chicago State team that has not won more than four games in a season since 2011-12. The Cougars have won a total of three games over the past three years and went winless in 2016-17.
This was not a team that the Wildcats should have been struggling against.
Still, several players put up good numbers. As per usual, they were led by Aari McDonald who scored a game-high 24 points. She went 9-for-11 from the field and hit all six of her free throws. McDonald also added two steals in just 20 minutes of play.
The lone sore spot in her game was turnovers, which plagued the entire team. McDonald contributed four of the Wildcats’ 22 turnovers while only adding one of the team’s 21 assists.
Helena Pueyo showed why she was such a coveted recruit. The freshman guard was the only other Wildcat who scored in double digits, putting 11 points on the scoreboard. She added five rebounds, three assists, one block and seven steals while only turning the ball over once.
Smith was just short of a double-double. The sophomore had 10 rebounds to go with nine points and one block.
Tara Manumaleuga matched the nine points on a perfect 3-for-3 from outside, and McBryde added six steals. Mara Mote had a team-high four assists to go along with her eight points, one rebound and one steal.
Barnes was happy that the team got the win in their first road game, but she knows that things will be more difficult later this week.
“We have to play a lot better in order to go on the road and beat Texas,” she said.