Warthen leaves her mark, as Arizona stomp Utah
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The script couldn't have been written any better for the Wildcats, as senior guard Candice Warthen poured in a season-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting to lift Arizona to a convincing 64-41 victory over Utah on Senior Day, Sunday afternoon inside McKale Center.
For Arizona (10-19, 3-15 Pac-12), the 23-point win marks its largest margin of victory since defeating UC Santa Barbara by 27 points back on Nov. 25 this season, while the Cats now claim the No. 11 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament and will take on sixth-seeded UCLA, Thursday at 3 pm MST in the first round up in Seattle, Wash.
Warthen put together one of her best outings in her final home game as a Wildcat, as the 23-point performance marked her third 20-plus point game of the season, while it was also her 19th double-figure scoring outing of the year. She's now led Arizona in scoring in 16 of 29 contests this season.
Freshman guard JaLea Bennett posted her best game of her young career, as she poured in a career-high equaling 14 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor, while grabbing a career-best equaling six rebounds and dishing out a career and game-high four assists on the day.
Sophomore forward Breanna Workman pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, while sophomore forward LaBrittney Jones chipped in with eight points and five rebounds off the bench in the win.
Senior forward Alli Gloyd provided a game and career-high three blocks in her final home game.
Arizona boasted one of the most complete performances of the season, as the Cats shot a season-high 51.9 percent from the field on 28-of-54 shooting as a team, while Arizona's defense clamped down as well, holding Utah (9-20, 3-15 Pac-12) to just 27.1 percent shooting from the floor, marking the second lowest shooting percentage Arizona has held an opponent to this season.
The Wildcats outrebounded the Utes 39-34 and scored 11 points off of seven forced turnovers, while owning a 10-0 advantage in fast break points. Arizona won the battle of the benches for the 17th time over the last 27 games, outscoring the Utah reserves 15-7.
There was never any doubt in this one, as the lead only changed twice the entire contest.
The Wildcats raced out to a quick 16-6 advantage with 14:22 remaining in the first half, as Warthen and Bennett combined to score 12 of Arizona's first 16 points on the night.
Later, the Utes went on a 13-0 surge to take a 19-16 advantage with 5:56 remaining in the half, but Wildcats snapped out of their shooting slump, outscoring the Utah 19-10 the rest of the period to take a 35-29 lead into halftime.
As good as the first half was for the Wildcats, it would only get better in the second half, as Arizona held Utah to just 4-of-30 from the floor for 13.3 percent shooting, while conversely, the Arizona offense caught fire, draining 12-of-23 field goals for 51.9 percent.
The Utes didn't knock down their first field goal of the second half until the 12:01 mark, as they went eight minutes and 27 seconds without converting a bucket going back to the first half.
Utah's Taryn Wicijowski recorded a layup with 7:21 remaining to trim Arizona's lead down to 53-41, but never got any closer than that, as the Cats dominated the rest of the way, ending the contest on an 11-0 run to secure the victory.