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Arizona women’s basketball drops 3rd straight game with loss to UCLA in Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 19 Womens Colorado at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Las Vegas, Nev. - UCLA had gone 0-5 against teams in the top four of the conference heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins are now 1-5 after defeating Arizona 73-59 in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon.

As befitting a fifth-year player who has started 150 games for Arizona, Cate Reese fought. In one play she was down on the floor fighting for a loose ball, got the ball to a teammate, and got the offensive rebound of the missed shot, and drew a foul on Charisma Osborne. At halftime, she had six rebounds—three offensive and three defensive—exceeding her per game average of 5.8. She ended with nine.

“I think she did a really good job of sticking with it and trying and giving effort,” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “I think sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in the basket, and that’s the game of basketball. I think the good thing is she did other things, and she did rebound. She was our leading rebounder and she was pretty much the only one that rebounded. So, I think that’s just a senior, a fifth-year leader, that can do that. But for us to win, she has to score. We don’t have an inside presence right now consistently. We don’t have someone that we can throw the ball to on the block and score consistently. We don’t have great post defense right now. That’s really hurting us because we’re getting really hurt inside.”

Reese battled in the paint. While she went 0-8 from the field, she went to the line ten times and hit nine of those free throws to end with nine points and nine rebounds. The UCLA game plan was to send everyone at her, bigs and guards.

“As soon as she started to dribble, we wanted to swarm the ball,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said.

It was effective, as Reese was essentially on an island with Esmery Martinez playing less than 19 minutes due to fouls.

Overall, the Wildcats didn’t function well as a team. They failed to move the ball. At the end of the third quarter, the Bruins had as many assists as Arizona had made field goals.

The Wildcats had several droughts of over five minutes without a field goal. The fact that the Bruins also weren’t hitting didn’t help much since UCLA had already built a double-digit lead.

Jade Loville started hot, getting eight points in the first quarter. Then, she went cold, taking shots with a hand in her face, often off one pass. After opening up 3 for 4 from the field, she ended the game 3 for 10.

“We just tried to crowd her a little more,” Close said.

Loville was one of three players who ended in double figures. Shaina Pellington and Lauren Fields joined Loville with 10 points each. Kailyn Gilbert scored nine despite playing just eight minutes.

As has been typical of the Wildcats, especially lately, several players struggled with fouls. Martinez was one of three who ended the game with four fouls. Pellington and Helena Pueyo both joined her.