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Arizona ‘timid’ in loss at Colorado as Aari McDonald misses another game

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The Wildcats shot 25 percent without their leading scorer

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 30 Women’s Arizona State at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona’s second game without Aari McDonald didn’t quite go as smoothly as the first. The 11th-ranked Wildcats shot 25 percent in a 50-38 loss at Colorado on Sunday, snapping their four-game winning streak.

Head coach Adia Barnes said Arizona “played scared” without its leading scorer who missed her second straight game with a lower leg injury.

“Just not being aggressive, stagnant on offense, taking tough shots, really playing timid and not rising to the occasion,” Barnes said on the radio.

The game was closer than the final score indicates. Arizona trailed 11-8 after one, pulled even at 19-all after two, and held a 31-29 lead after three.

Then the wheels fell off.

After Amari Carter swished a 3 to put Arizona up 38-35 with 6:35 left, Colorado used a 15-0 run to break the game open. Carter’s triple turned out to be UA’s final points of the game, those kind of scoring droughts plaguing Arizona all day.

Arizona (22-5, 11-5) shot 5 for 20 from 3-point range and 4 for 18 on layups. Carter was the only Wildcat in double figures, notching 12 points.

Sam Thomas had seven points on nine shots to go along with five rebounds, four blocks, three assists, and two steals. Dominique McBryde and Helena Pueyo each had six points on a combined 5-of-19 shooting. Cate Reese went 1 for 11 from the field.

It is Arizona’s first loss to an unranked team.

“You gotta play hard, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you gotta play hard with heart,” Barnes said. “I thought Sam really did that the whole time. I thought we were scared inside, not shooting on our own terms, afraid to attack the basket, just stuff we don’t normally do, and you get beat. And I think Colorado did a really good job of punching us and we never really responded.”

McDonald was missed on the glass as well. The Wildcats held Colorado to 38 percent shooting but were outboarded 48-27 without their second-leading rebounder. The Buffaloes (16-11, 5-11) turned 13 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.

“I mean, you don’t win games like that,” Barnes said. “We gave up at least four free-throw boxout rebounds and we don’t do that.”

Arizona hosts No. 4 Stanford on Friday to kick off the final week of the regular season. McDonald’s status is unclear.

“We’re banged up, but that’s not an excuse,” Barnes said. “We have to play better, play harder, it doesn’t matter if we’re down or not.”

On a positive note, Arizona State was upset by Utah on Sunday, meaning the Wildcats have clinched a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.