Not quite ready

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David Venezia / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Alex Williams

The Arizona women’s basketball team did everything it could for 39 minutes of Thursday’s game against UCLA before falling 74-70.

UCLA guard Darxia Morris drilled a three with Davellyn Whyte’s hand in her face with a minute to play then stole the Wildcat inbound attempt to all but end Arizona’s hopes of knocking off the No. 11 Bruins.

“”That gave them a lot of momentum,”” said guard Reiko Thomas. “”We still had plenty of time to do what we could to get back.””

Whyte said she thought that UCLA took Arizona (16-10, 7-8 Pac-10) lightly, which led to the Bruins (23-3, 13-2) getting more than they bargained for.

“”Since they’re top-10, and we’re not ranked, they were supposed to win,”” Whyte said. “”When we gave them a game, they weren’t really ready for it. They gained a lot of respect for us.””

Unlike most college basketball games, Thursday’s game didn’t feature any huge runs from either team. Instead, it was back and forth, with neither team leading by more than six.

“”It was pretty much a complete game,”” Butts said. “”I definitely know that in (UCLA’s) locker room, they’re thinking they escaped one. Our kids fought hard … they deserved to win. We just didn’t make key plays when we missed them.””

The Bruins escaped, but they earned the victory. Every time Arizona would seem to be on the verge of breaking the game open, a UCLA player would find a way to hit a shot and swing momentum.

“”That’s tough, but it’s basketball,”” Whyte said. “”It’s just hard because we had it. We were right there. It’s tough, but credit to them for hitting the big shots when they needed to.””

Mistakes are magnified in every close game, and that was the case on Thursday.

“”We had a couple missed layups down the stretch that we would normally make,”” Butts said. “”We had a turnover in the open floor with a sure two points, we didn’t get some stops defensively that we needed to. We just couldn’t get that fourth and fifth effort.””

Although UCLA ran a high-energy press defense the entire 40 minutes, Butts said that the Bruins didn’t dictate Arizona’s tempo on offense.

“”We understood what they were going to do,”” Butts said. “”We only turned the ball over 13 times … I don’t think (the loss) was due to their press, it was due to our mistakes that we were making.””

Senior day

When Arizona takes on Southern California on Saturday, it will be the last game in McKale Center for Arizona’s three seniors — Ify Ibekwe, Soana Lucet and Amanda Pierson.

“”We want to send away our seniors on a high note,”” Thomas said. “”We haven’t beaten USC in two years, so that’s what we’re going to be focused on.””

Although Arizona is coming off of perhaps its most emotional loss of the season, Butts doesn’t see a letdown coming from her team.

“”We know we have a tough one on Saturday,”” the third-year coach said. “”Everybody’s got to keep their heads up and move on.””