Arizona HC Adia Barnes Urge to sign USC star JuJu Watkins amid Pac-12  displayed…

With the bright lights of a “Big Monday” game on ESPN2, Arizona came out swinging.

Arizona women's basketball coach Adia Barnes gets another pay raise -  Arizona Desert Swarm


It was an epic battle through the first 20 minutes. Then No. 10 USC and its freshman phenom, JuJu Watkins, took over and ran to an 81-64 win at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The Wildcats drop to 12-12, 4-8 in the Pac-12. USC improves to 18-4, 8-4.

Arizona coach Adia Barnes’ plan was to slow down Watkins as she said earlier in the week that there is no way to stop her. While Watkins finished with 32, it took her a while to warm up.

The Wildcats used a box-and-one defense in the first half with a number of players switching on Watkins. It worked for a while as she made only 1 of 6 shots from the field in the first quarter. She added eight more points in the second frame for 14 at the half.

Arizona was playing together in all aspects in that first half — collecting nine second-chance points, outrebounding USC 17-11 (seven coming on the offensive boards) and outscoring USC 20-10 in the paint. UA also had seven assists on 14 made baskets.

The Wildcats were fired up from the tip as Helena Pueyo swatted a ball and scored four of the first six points. Isis Beh was diving for 50/50 balls.Breya Cunningham picked a steal, and Skylar Jones knocked down a 3-pointer, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Jada Williams drew a charge.

The lead went back and forth before USC pulled ahead with nine seconds left as Watkins made a layup and was fouled. USC was ahead by four at the half, 37-33.

Then everything changed. That third quarter letdown came back — the one that has hurt the Wildcats many times this season — and USC burst out to a 60-44 lead.

Besides Watkins, Kayla Padilla scored 15 points, going 5 of 8 from long distance.

Jones and Esmery Martinez each scored 13 points. For the freshman, Jones, it was a career high even though she was one of the Wildcats who played despite having a cold.


What did Adia Barnes say after BYU?


Martinez landed hard on her back and had to be helped off the court — she couldn’t stand up straight — in the fourth after she got her fifth foul. After the game Barnes said that Martinez and Williams, who hurt her knee in the third quarter but came back, are going to be fine.

“Those kids played their hearts out,” Barnes said. “They have great mentalities, great attitudes every single day. Some people probably wouldn’t have gone back in the game at this point, but those two are difference makers. And (they are) kids I really believe in and that I stand behind. Thank God they are OK.”

Williams (10) and Kailyn Gilbert (11) were the other two Wildcats in double figures.

Arizona is back at home Friday to host Washington State and will look to end a two-game skid.

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