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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats playing for Pac-10 position in Oregon

Shortstop+Alex+Lavine+has+worked+her+way+into+the+starting+lineup+despite+not+being+recruited+by+Arizona.+The+walk-on+from+Glendale%2C+Ariz.+has+started+12+games+for+Arizona+this+season.
Shortstop Alex Lavine has worked her way into the starting lineup despite not being recruited by Arizona. The walk-on from Glendale, Ariz. has started 12 games for Arizona this season.

For a team that was once looking down at what appeared to be another lost season, something has finally clicked again for Arizona women’s basketball.

And it’s come at the perfect time.

After winning their last four out of five, including upsetting rival ASU at home on Feb. 13, the Wildcats (17-10, 8-8 Pacific 10 Conference) have been playing with more passion and emotion than they have had in years.

With the trip to the Oregon schools looming this weekend, the Wildcats need to come out with the same verve that they’ve been playing with since their meeting with the Sun Devils.

Head coach Niya Butts knows how important this weekend is to her team’s conference positioning and has stressed how the momentum has to carry over toward Oregon.

“”I hope it stays on,”” Butts said. “”That’s a long flight to the northwest, so we have to make sure that we stay focused on what we need to do.

“”I think (the team) understands how important (tonight) is to our ultimate goal.””

That ultimate goal is post-season success and an eventual NCAA Tournament bid, something the program hasn’t received since the 2004-05 season.

With the Wildcats planted firmly in the number four spot in the conference — way ahead of seventh, where league coaches slated them in the preseason poll — a pair of Arizona wins this weekend could position the team quite comfortably in the Pac-10 tournament.

The Wildcats face the Oregon State Beavers (9-18, 2-14 Pac-10) tonight, and with the grinding half-court offense that OSU employs, it could be difficult for Arizona to keep its up-tempo style of play consistent.

“”When they’re playing that zone (defense), they’re going to press you all game long and make you slow it down.”” Butts said. “”Our game is more up-tempo, so we’re going to try to stay true to that as much as we can.””

Last time out, Arizona was able to fend off a tough Beaver offense and managed to seal the 67-65 victory.

In that contest, senior forward Ify Ibekwe and junior guard Shanita Arnold stole the spotlight.

Ibekwe’s double-double cleaned the glass with 10 rebounds and posted 16 points on the scoreboard, and Arnold added another 17 points to the Arizona total.

For the Beavers, Alyssa Martin contributes 12.6 points per game, while El Sara Greer paces with team with 8.3 rebounds.

 

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