W-hoops defeats Beavers at McKale

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Alan Walsh

Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Michael Fitzsimmons

Without a single shot attempt from their leading scorer in the first half, the Arizona women’s basketball team found a way to win 62-53 last night against the Oregon State Beavers.

Freshman Davellyn Whyte was held without a shot attempt in the first 20 minutes of the game, and the Wildcats were happy to see her net 14 points in the second half.

“”I’m proud of our group for coming back,”” said head coach Niya Butts after letting out a long sigh of relief. “”Tonight we had to come from behind, and we were able to pull it out.””

Despite getting out-rebounded 38-27 in the game, Arizona (8-7, 2-3 Pacific 10 Conference) was able to cut down on second-chance points by Oregon State (9-5, 1-3).

“”(Oregon State) didn’t really score off the rebounds,”” said junior Soana Lucet. “”We just had to keep going in transition and keep pushing the ball.””

The Wildcats opened up the game with two quick buckets from Lucet, who led scoring with 18 points, shooting an impressive 7-for-12 from the field.

Both teams played tug-of-war for the rest of the half with no team’s greatest lead exceeding five points. 

Sophomore Reiko Thomas, who provided a spark for the offense off of the bench and finished with 12 points, drove and banked a running jumper to give Arizona a 17-12 lead with 10:35 in the first half.

The Beavers’ offense answered with a 10-0 run to erase their deficit, giving themselves a 22-17 lead.  

Arizona responded with an 8-0 run of their own with Lucet and Thomas accounting for all of the points to put the Wildcats back on top 25-22 with 3:04 remaining in the half.

A quick 3-point play on a free throw attempt by Oregon State at the end of the half sent the teams to the locker rooms all knotted up at 29-29.

Coming into the game, Arizona was aware of Oregon State’s Talisa Rhea’s ability to score. Although she scored 10 points in the first half, Arizona was able to hold Rhea to just three points in the second half and did not allow her a successful 3-point shot all game.

“”My exact words before coming out of the locker room were, ‘We need to make sure (Rhea) knows that she is a part of our uniform,’ “” Butts said. “”That’s how close we needed to be with her.””

Whyte, who mentioned after the game how much energy it took in the first half to contain Rhea, made her first scoring appearance with a big three at 15:59 in the second half to give Arizona a 36-35 advantage.

With the Beavers keying on Whyte, the door was open for players like Lucet and Thomas to take charge of the offense on a rare off-night for double-double threat Ify Ibekwe.

Lucet knocked down a free throw with 3:19 left in the game, and followed with a pull-up jumper on the next possession that drew nothing but net, and put the Wildcats on top for good.

The win bumps Arizona from eighth to a sixth-place tie with ASU.

“”It feels good to win,”” Lucet said. “”It’s our first Pac-10 win at home and hopefully not the last.””

Up next

After losing to the Sun Devils last night in Tempe, the Oregon Ducks (12-4, 3-1) will travel to Tucson tomorrow to take on Arizona in a matinee at McKale Center.

The Ducks feature a high-octane offense with four players averaging double-digit scoring, including three players who shoot at least 37 percent from the three-point line.

“”We won tonight but now we have to take Oregon on Saturday.  They have two pretty good players so we got to shut them down like we did today.”” Whyte said.

Tip-off for Saturday’s game is set for 2 p.m.