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Mistakes at ends of quarters lead to another one-possession loss for Arizona women’s basketball

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Women’s - Utah at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona women’s basketball had the opportunity to score at the end of each quarter. Turnovers and decisions to run down the clock resulted in zero points in those opportunities. The end result was yet another one-possession road loss in the 62-60 result at Washington.

“We settled for a lot of jumpers in the first half instead of driving,” said Arizona head coach Adia Barnes. “Too slow, a little bit stagnant. And then I think had tough times executing stuff or people in the wrong spot. So it’s really hard to run something when we have a difficult time executing.”

At the end of the first quarter, Arizona failed to inbound the ball cleanly with nine seconds on the clock. Courtney Blakely threw the ball away, and Washington ran down the court to tack two points on its lead.

There was more at the end of the first half. Helena Pueyo grabbed a defensive rebound with 19 seconds to go, but Arizona passed and dribbled until time ran out without taking a shot.

The Wildcats came out of the locker room slow in both halves. They allowed UW to score 21 in the first quarter. In the third, they emerged down six and let UW double that lead quickly. They had the opportunity to cut it to five at the end of the third, but once again holding the ball too long resulted in a long three by Kailyn Gilbert that wasn’t close.

“If you look at the way we started the game, the lack of intensity, and giving up 21 points the first quarter, you’re not gonna win a game in the Pac-12 giving up 21 points in the first quarter,” Barnes said.

As they have in their previous four games, the Wildcats came roaring back in the final quarter. At 5:31 in the period, the game was tied. The next bucket gave Arizona the lead at- 54-52.

Jada Williams tied the game again at 60 with 1:06 to go. Arizona would not get another point.

With 36 seconds on the clock, Gilbert grabbed the defensive rebound off a miss by Ladine. Barnes told the team to run clock.

The best-case scenario was Arizona going ahead and leaving Washington with at least some time to tie or win, likely after advancing the ball. The Wildcats didn’t even get the best-case scenario.

After running the shot clock down and almost out, Gilbert was blocked at the rim. UW grabbed the board and called the timeout to advance the ball. They easily broke UA’s press and laid it in with two seconds left. A desperation 3-pointer by Williams was off the mark.

“When it was tied, the last play, we had three fouls to give and our intention was to foul,” Barnes said. “We gave them a full-court layup. We need to learn from that. There was a soft back screen that happened and that was a bad mistake.”

For the most part, Arizona avoided foul trouble. Only freshman post Breya Cunningham struggled with fouls. The Wildcats got some offensive contributions from all eight players. They outrebounded the Huskies 38-34 including 10-9 on the offensive boards. Fouls and rebounding were two points of emphasis this week, but they weren’t enough to close the deal.

“Courtney gave us really good minutes,” Barnes said. “I think Skylar [Jones] gave us good minutes, but I think it’s figuring out a way to play with more intensity from the get-go is what we have to do.”

The Huskies took 30 three-point shots, hitting 10 of them. Despite the relatively low percentage, even many of the misses were wide open.

“We were closing out really slow,” Barnes said. “Like we kind of the ball moves and we move. I think our lack of defense was just a result of this lack of intensity and focus. And I mean, we’re continuing to pay for that.”

The Wildcats were led by Gilbert with 18 points, all scored in the second half. She added seven rebounds, a team-high three assists, and one steal.

Esmery Martinez was the only other Wildcat in double figures. She had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. She added an assist and a block, but she also had three turnovers from passing into traffic. Most importantly, she was able to play 31 minutes with just one foul.

The two-point loss marks five straight games decided by a single possession. Arizona lost to Colorado by one point, defeated Utah by one in overtime, lost to Oregon State by three in double overtime, and dropped a game to Oregon by two before losing to the Huskies by two. They face Washington State on the road Sunday before finally returning home next week.