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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    W-hoops uses paint to complete weekend sweep

    On a day where shades of pink could be found throughout McKale Center in honor of breast cancer awareness, it was fitting that the Arizona women’s basketball team made its biggest impact in the paint.

    The Wildcats, who warmed up in pink T-shirts before playing with pink headbands and shoelaces, attacked the boards and scored 42 of points in the paint en route to a 71-63 victory over Oregon State (10-12, 3-8 Pacific 10 Conference) Saturday. The game was played with a special ball that had a pink Nike swoosh and a pink ribbon emblem on it.

    The win paired with Thursday’s win over Oregon is the first back-to-back conference wins for Arizona (9-13, 3-8 Pac-10) since the 2005 season.

    “”We wanted to attack them inside,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”At times we even posted up our guards, particularly (guard) Rheya Neabors.

    “”We just did a great job down low.””

    Also making an impact in the paint was forward Ify Ibekwe. At halftime, Ibekwe was already one rebound shy of a double-double. Along with her 14 points, Ibekwe finished with a team-high 13 rebounds.

    After Arizona’s win against Oregon Thursday night, Bonvicini said she expected Ibekwe to get a double-double each game.

    “”I don’t ever think about it,”” Ibekwe said. “”I just want to have fun out there and worry about playing good defense.

    “”Then if it comes on the way to doing the little things, then that’s great.””

    The points in the paint became all the more important when guard Ashley Whisonant left the game in the first half with a sore groin after falling hard while driving to the basket.

    Whisonant remained on the sideline for the remainder of the half before returning in the second to score 12 of her 17 total points.

    Despite missing their leading scorer, the Wildcats did not miss a beat. Five of the other seven players found the basket, finishing the half with three or more points.

    “”I was wishing I could be out there, but everybody did great,”” Whisonant said. “”It was fun in a way watching (the team play so well).””

    Without Whisonant, Arizona managed to go into the half tied with the Beavers at 37.

    But after five lead changes in the first half, the Wildcats opened the second half on a 6-0 run and took the lead for good.

    While Arizona began looking stronger, the Beavers began self-destructing. After shooting 52 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3-point range in the first half, Oregon State struggled in the final 20 minutes, shooting 42.3 percent from the field and a dismal 28.6 percent from behind the arc.

    Turnovers became a large factor as well. Arizona’s hustle led to 12 secondhalf takeaways resulting in 26 points for the Wildcats.

    “”We were definitely outworking them,”” Bonvicini said of her team’s effort. “”Sometimes it’s not the big things that matter, it’s the little things and that’s what translates into success.””

    With the team’s first back-to-back wins since Dec. 15, as well as wins in three of its last four games, Arizona has begun to show a different demeanor.

    “”No.1, we’re playing as a team,”” Whisonant said of the team’s improved play. “”Everybody is working hard, trusting everybody and we’ve got each other’s back on defense and offense.

    “”Second, we’re just playing more confident and it shows. A confident team is capable of anything, and that’s what we are right now.””

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