Arizona No. 19 tosses NAU 113-56 in 2022-23 season opener

At the start of the 2022-23 season, No. 19 Arizona had question marks around the squad with players from the previous season being transferred and losing starting center Lauren Ware to an end injury. of the season.

Although the season opener isn’t the best yardstick when you’ve outscored a team 113-56 like the Wildcats did against NAU on Thursday, but show the potential for something special at the low post.

“I thought it was a fun game. Obviously winning is always fun, but I feel like we’ve made a huge leap forward in the last two weeks,” the coach said. Adia Barnes said. “I think we have improved. I think offensively we still have a lot of work to do. But I thought in the second quarter [we had] really solid defense. We really turned them around and we did some good things. And NAU is a very good team. I think they are really good [at] transitional three. Sometimes they made us pay for it. And I think our pressure really got to them, but I think it’s a good test for us.”

With Ware down, Barnes went ahead with the transfer Esmery Martinez in the starting lineup by pairing it with the striker Catherine Reese. For Reese, it was his first game after suffering a head injury in the team’s final exhibition game in the first quarter. She was able to play 24 minutes and had 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while on the floor.

“I thought she had some good drives to the basket. I think all the posts missed little chippies around the basket. I thought she gave us some really good minutes,” Barnes said. “I thought she was also good on the board, it’s almost a double-double. I think she played well. After being out for a few days, she was like, out for three or four days and from back to 50% Because after the concussion protocol you have to tone down in your rating your non-contact, and then you’re like 50% So that’s kind of how it’s been all week .”

However, the story of the night was Martinez in her first game as an Arizona player and posted a double-double in the first half of the game with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

It was just the tip of the iceberg for Martinez, who followed the first-half performance by finishing the night with a team-high 20 points and had 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

“She has a really special talent for the ball. I remember I said that even before she started playing with us. She has quick jumps and just a nose for the ball, and that’s instinct,” Barnes said of Martinez’s rebounding ability. “It’s not something we were taught, I wish they could take credit for it. It’s just that she’s good at it. Some people are just a natural rebounder. She’s good for that. She reads the room well and just goes for that. And I don’t think it’s because she’s jumping out of the gym. She’s athletic, but I just think it’s her timing and her quick jumps, and just the nose for the ball, so I think she’s special in that sense.

One of the underrated parts of Martinez’s game against NAU was her three assists where she found other teammates around the basket. In the game of basketball, when you have big players making the extra pass for an easy bucket, it helps the offense become more efficient and creates huge problems for the defense.

“It’s really good. She’s a selfless player,” Barnes said. “She doesn’t take bad shots and she had no turnovers. I think she played a phenomenal game.”

As a team, the Wildcats shot 53% from the field and went 8 of 14 from the 3-point line against the NAU defense. Arizona defensively held the Lumberjacks to 34 percent shooting from the field and forced them to 24 turnovers that led to 16 points for UA.

Arizona will play its next game against CSU Northridge on Sunday at 5 p.m. (MST) and the game will be broadcast live.

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