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Devastating loss in Pullman as Arizona women’s basketball loses Cate Reese to injury, falls to WSU

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 13 Women’s - Arizona State at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A team can recover from a 72-67 loss on the road. It’s difficult to know whether Arizona women’s basketball can recover from its other loss on Sunday afternoon. Star forward Cate Reese was injured with 6:59 to go in the Wildcats’ game against Washington State.

Reese’s injury appeared to be a severe shoulder injury, but head coach Adia Barnes said after the game that WSU gave the Wildcats access to doctors and imaging. They put Reese in a sling and confirmed that nothing was structurally damaged in her shoulder. Barnes said she would not play Reese until she’s ready, but she hopes to see her top scorer return this season.

“(She) dislocated her shoulder, but nothing’s torn or broken or anything,” Barnes said. “So that’s a great thing just because the time being out is significantly less, but we’re gonna see...she’s gonna be very sore. First time dislocating her shoulder and that was pretty devastating for me. I’ve never seen that before. So, going next to her and she’s in excruciating pain, I just, it was scary. So, that kind of shook me a little bit. But Cates is so important for this team in every single way. So obviously, when she went down, that was a huge dagger. But you know, now it’s time. We lost today, and we have to wait and kind of maintain till she comes back. And we need some other people to step up right now, and I think that’s what good teams do. Other people find ways to step up when some of the best players are out.”

Reese responded to the many well-wishers on Twitter after the game.

The game was a shootout between two teams known more for defense. Arizona shot 47 percent from the field for the game while Washington State hit 54 percent of their shots. Both were productive from outside with the Cougars hitting 9 of 16 and the Wildcats connecting on 7 of 17 from beyond the arc.

Balancing offense and defense has been difficult for Arizona. When Barnes puts in defensive-minded lineups, the offense can stagnate. However, her offensive-minded lineups are prone to giving up points that the Wildcats can’t overcome. How are they going to fix it going forward?

“I don’t know,” Barnes said. “That’s what I’m looking for. I have no idea because I have not been able to figure that out. Because we scored 67 points, that’s plenty of points, but we can’t be on the road, let a team shoot 54 percent from 2, 56 percent from three, and 91, 92 percent from free throws. We can’t do that and win games. So, we have to defend better. And we have to start with better intensity and maintain it after halftime because teams are really showing up to play us.”

Madi Conner led Arizona with 15 points off the bench. Koi Love was just behind her with 12. Sam Thomas and Reese each contributed 10.

Arizona went into the final quarter behind by five. Despite losing Reese just under halfway through, they managed 22 points in the quarter. The problem was that Washington State got the same 22 points.

“I think we just have to have those fourth quarters in the beginning of the game and then have it last throughout the whole game,” Thomas said. “I think we’ve kind of been having slow starts or kind of playing with the teams that we’re playing against a little bit, seeing what they can give us. I think when we just need to be the attacker instead and just play Arizona basketball.”

It was the second straight year that the Cougars have upset the Wildcats in Pullman.

Arizona needs to win out and have Washington State lose at least once to retake the 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cougars still have to travel to Stanford while the Wildcats host USC and UCLA beginning on Thursday.