LaBrittney Jones had 22 points and nine rebounds Sunday afternoon to lift the Arizona Wildcats to a 63-52 win over Colorado at McKale Center. The victory marked the 100th career victory for coach Niya Butts.
Jones, Arizona’s junior forward, ensured her coach got win No. 100. Jones dominated the fourth quarter to lift the Wildcats to a victory and bring separation to a close game.
"She has grown so much as a player, and I am just happy for her," Butts said after the game. "She's developed into a leader on the bench and on the floor. I'm happy that she’s playing the way she is; we need her to do that. She gave us a huge lift."
Trailing 48-46, Jones hit a layup to tie the game with 7:10 to play. Colorado scored again to go up 50-48, but Keyahndra Cannon hit two free throws to tie it up with 5:23 to play.
Jones then went to work.
She scored a layup with 5:09 to put the Wildcats up two. After a basket from Breanna Workman to make it a four-point game, Jones came through with a block of Colorado's Jamee Swan, before forcing a turnover. She scored with 3:50 to play to put the Wildcats up six at 56-50. The forward added two free throws to make it an eight-point lead and complete a 10-0 run for the Wildcats.
"I just wanted to win that game honestly, that was all I had on my mind," Jones said of her fourth quarter performance. "
The block of Swan was Jones' 92nd career swat, moving her into fifth place all-time at Arizona and helped spark Arizona's strong finish.
"We needed that stop right there, so I did whatever it took," Jones said. "We really needed to crack down and get the stop, and I think that moment (the block) helped us out and turn things around for us."
In the first quarter, the Buffaloes hit their first three 3-pointers to jump out of the gate and take an early 11-5 lead. But the Wildcats, playing on their home court, responded right away. Arizona put together an 8-0 run with Jones, Destiny Graham, Evans and A’Shanti Coleman all scoring for the Wildcats.
The run put Arizona (11-7, 2-4 Pac-12) up 13-11 with 2:30 to play in the opening quarter. Colorado answered with another 3-pointer to go up 14-13, but Breanna Workman scored with 35 seconds left in the period to give the Wildcats a one-point lead after the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, the Wildcats took a 17-16 lead more than a minute in and then went on a 9-1 run to open the game up a big. Evans had four during the run with Jones adding three and Workman two. The run concluded with 3:25 to play in the half when Workman scored on a layup.
Later in the quarter, Graham hit a pair of free throws to extend Arizona’s lead to 30-20 with 1:33 to play in the half. Swan added two free throws in the final seconds to make the halftime score 30-22 in favor of the Wildcats.
Colorado (5-12, 0-6) cut into Arizona’s lead in the third quarter and tied the game at 40 with 1:11 to play in the period. Cannon hit a pair of free throws right before the quarter ended to give Arizona a two-point lead heading into the final quarter.
The Wildcats' strong fourth quarter catapulted the team to Butts' 100th career win.
"You know, I had no idea," Butts said after the game. "I am just trying to coach and win these games, but I feel good about it."
Jones was one of three Wildcats to score in double figures in the victory. Cannon had 11 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes. Workman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats also held Swan, Colorado's leading scorer, to just two points on 0 of 11 shooting in 30 minutes.
"We really had to focus in on her because she is from Tucson and we didn't want her to have a big game against us," Workman said. "As post players, that was our mindset coming into this game; not to let her have a big game. Stopping a key player like that limits their team from scoring."
The Wildcats will return to action Friday at Arizona State. Game time is 7 p.m.
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