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Arizona women’s basketball needs to focus, add more depth to get to the NCAA Tournament

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Women’s - Arizona State at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With only eight games left in the season, Arizona women’s basketball needs to start stacking wins to get back in the picture for a shot in the big tournament.

UA took that first step Sunday afternoon picking up another Pac-12 conference win against Arizona State University.

“This game was really important for us,” fifth-year post player Esmery Martinez said. “We had to win because we need to make up more games to make the tournament. It was really important, so we came out ready to play and beat them.”

Arizona is currently eighth (12-10, 4-6 Pac-12) in the Pac-12 and needs to go 5-3 the rest of the season in order to just be .500 in conference play. More importantly, it needs to finish at least .500 when it bows out of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament just to be considered for March Madness. The Wildcats could do that by going no worse than 3-5 down the stretch of the regular season and then at least 1-1 in the conference tournament.

Left on the schedule are a pair of matchups with No. 7 UCLA and No. 15 USC, road contests at No. 4 Stanford and California, and home games against the two Washington schools.

Going into the game against ASU, Arizona had a NET of 45. Last season, eight teams with NET rankings of 45 or higher received at-large bids. The highest NET which received an at-large bid was No. 60 West Virginia, which UA knocked out in the first round of the tournament.

Something to think about, though, is that Oregon had a NET of 19 last season but still missed the tournament. The Ducks piled up more losses due to the level of competition they faced during the nonconference season.

Arizona is currently playing games with only seven players available and will be hosting open tryouts Tuesday, Feb. 6 in hopes of adding one or two players. Head coach Adia Barnes hopes to make practices easier and have bodies available just in case of foul trouble or another injury.

“Will they play a lot?” Barnes said. “Probably not. But maybe they come in, bring some energy, help us in practice, where we’re deep enough to do scout team and stuff like that. Help us on the road, because it’s just hard to function with seven bodies even in practice on the road.”

Barnes said that director of basketball operations Lauren Flaum had received approximately 180 emails from women interested in joining the team as of Saturday.

The Wildcats’ next step towards getting to the tournament comes on the road. They tip off at Pauley Pavilion against No. 7 UCLA on Friday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. MST.