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Arizona women’s basketball announces season-ending surgeries for Sali Kourouma, Erin Tack

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 20 Women’s - Jerry Colangelo’s 2023 Hall of Fame Series - Gonzaga vs Arizona Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before last Friday’s game against the Utah Utes, Arizona Wildcat wing Sali Kourouma posted a photo of her uniform on Instagram with a caption indicating it was the last game she would play this season. On Thursday afternoon, the program announced that Kourouma and teammate Erin Tack had both undergone season-ending surgeries.

Kourouma suffered a dislocated left shoulder with just seconds left in Arizona’s second exhibition this season. It was a game in which the Wildcats had just five players, or she might not have been on the court at the time. She tried to make it through the season but had been unable to play since the Dec. 20 game against Gonzaga.

“I think when a player in that situation—she obviously has a shoulder injury and it’s hard,” Barnes said after the Wildcats defeated Utah. “So I leave it completely up to her, 100 percent up to her, on how you feel and what you’re willing to do. I mean, ideally, we would want her to wait, if she felt good enough, but she’s in a situation it’s very hard to wait because it’s always slipping out. Like, she can get hit at practice, and I think that’s hard as a player psychologically. You know, it’s painful every time it comes out, and I think it’s hurting more and more.”

It is Kourouma’s second season-ending injury of her basketball career and the third season she has had cut short for some reason. She redshirted her freshman season at Grayson College due to an injury suffered in high school. Last season at Arkansas-Little Rock, she was unable to return to the U.S. in time for the beginning of the season due to visa issues.

Kourouma’s contributed 9.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 21 minutes per game. She shot 49 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. She appeared in 13 of the Wildcats’ 15 games.

Tack originally walked onto the basketball team to help ease the strains of a short bench. The member of the Arizona track and field team had stopped playing basketball in high school after an injury to her right knee, but she was excited to help the Wildcats in practice or any other way possible.

It didn’t work out, as Tack was injured within a week of joining the basketball team. The injury was to the same knee she had surgically repaired in high school. She never appeared in a game for Arizona.

The program announced that both players were in good spirits after their surgeries.

The Wildcats have now lost five players since the summer including Kourouma and Tack. Transfer Fanta Gassama was in Tucson for just a brief time, leaving before fall practice started. Freshman Montaya Dew suffered a knee injury that required surgery prior to the season. Sophomore Maya Nnaji left at the end of the first semester to focus on academics.

The team played Colorado with just seven players last week. Two days later, Kourouma rejoined them and they had eight. They should be back up to eight with the return of Isis Beh from concussion protocol.