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Cate Reese back in full-contact practice heading into NAU game after concussion scare

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 18 Women’s - Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Injuries are already devastating Pac-12 women’s basketball teams, especially in the frontcourt. UCLA lost Angela Dugalic to a torn ACL in September and she had surgery at the beginning of October. Oregon’s Sedona Prince tore her elbow ligament, ending her career with the Ducks. Arizona’s Lauren Ware had surgery for her dislocated patella, an injury she has now had twice. She will miss the entire season, as well.

The last thing the Wildcats and fifth-year senior Cate Reese needed was for her to be added to the list of frontcourt stars who won’t see the court this year. Fortunately for both Reese and her team, that’s not the case for her. After a concussion scare, she is back in practice in full-contact drills and will play when Arizona takes on Northern Arizona on Thursday, Nov. 10.

Just as important to her, there was never an issue with Reese’s surgically-repaired shoulder. But she did have an issue with the call on the play.

“I was in help side and the girl came and stepped on my foot and then just completely ran me over, so I’m a little annoyed that was a foul on me,” Reese said. “I immediately fell on my elbow and then banged my head and bounced, so the next day my neck was a little stiff. I told my athletic trainer, I was like, ‘I didn’t hit my shoulder!’ That was the first thing I said, apparently, so obviously I was really excited that it wasn’t my shoulder.”

Reese returned to practice in full capacity on Tuesday.

The next hurdle for the star forward and her team is NAU, who the Wildcats will face in their season opener. The Lumberjacks are a difficult opponent. Arizona State barely escaped them with a 69-68 win on Monday, Nov. 7.

“They’re scrappy,” said Reese “They can shoot the three. Their point guard, she has a fast tempo. She pushes the ball up the floor. So that’s definitely something...we’re gonna have to be back on transition. We’re gonna be talking a lot so I think that’ll definitely challenge us in a good way.”

Barnes knows that point guard well.

“I know Regan [Schenk]—number one, their point guard—from Seattle,” Barnes said. “I knew her when she was little because I’m good friends with her AAU coach so I was watching her growing up at all the tournaments...I didn’t even realize that was her...It’s like she’s so built and her body’s phenomenal. They did a really good job with her.”

The Lumberjacks are getting the most out of Schenk’s skills, too. Barnes noted that at times, NAU will have four or five shooters on the floor. Schenk not only scored in their first game, but she was able to find those shooters. She had a double-double against the Sun Devils with 18 points and 13 assists.

“They’re a hard team to beat,” Barnes said. “I think it’s a good challenge for us the first game, especially transition defense. We’re gonna face that in the Pac-12 as we progress, so I’m definitely not taking them lightly.”

NAU Lumberjacks (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky) @ No. 19 Arizona Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

When: Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. MST

Where: McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Streaming: Arizona Live Stream (free)

In-game stats: Arizona Live Stats

Rankings: Arizona is ranked 19th in both the AP media poll and the WBCA coaches poll. NAU is not ranked.