Arizona forward Cate Reese looked ready to go. She had the Wildcats’ first two points on an offensive rebound and putback, then she ran down the court to defend Cal State Los Angeles. Seconds later she was on the ground in pain where she stayed for several minutes.
“So her injured shoulder, I think was hit but it wasn’t her shoulder [that was injured],” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “She kind of slammed on her elbow, but it’s if she hit her head that was a concern... For concussion protocol whenever you hit your head, we didn’t want to chance it, but I think she’s doing fine. She just saw a doctor.”
Arizona defeated the Golden Eagles 104-46, but the questions about Reese’s health were in the air all night. She returned to the bench to applause from the crowd about 10 minutes after leaving, but there was no word about her condition during the game. She did not return to the game.
“I mean it’s kind of like scary because at the first time I thought it was her shoulder again,” senior guard Helena Pueyo said. “My hope is [that it’s not] bad. And I think it doesn’t look bad. So I think she will be back soon.”
The Wildcats didn’t need Reese to handle their opponent in this exhibition. Pueyo had a monster game, showing the kind of shooting prowess that many Wildcat fans have been begging for over the past few years while also finding her teammates. She ended the night with 15 points on 75 percent shooting, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 1 block.
Esmery Martinez contributed a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in 23 minutes. She also had three steals.
For the second straight game, Arizona was led in scoring by Jade Loville. The fifth-year senior had 26 points on 8-for-11 shooting. She hit four of five shots from beyond the arc and added a rebound, a block, and two steals.
Martinez wasn’t the only Wildcat who made herself known on the boards. As a team, they pulled down 55 rebounds, including 22 on the offensive end. Those offensive rebounds led to 29 second-chance points.
Freshmen Paris Clark and Maya Nnaji were also big contributors on the boards. Clark only scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting, but she grabbed 10 rebounds. Nnaji had 5 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 3 blocks.
Fellow freshman Kailyn Gilbert and senior Lauren Fields were the fourth and fifth Wildcats who scored in double digits. Gilbert scored 14 points while Fields had 11. Fields also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Gilbert contributed 5 rebounds and 3 assists in addition to her scoring.
Barnes was not pleased with the defensive effort. After holding the Golden Eagles to 13 points in the first half, the Wildcats allowed them to score 33 in the second half. She did think the team improved over their first exhibition, though.
“It was fun,” Pueyo said. “I think when the team plays together...it’s always fun. Like passing the ball, doing the extra pass...that always feels great for players.”