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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Just a win?

Saturday’s 73-61 win over ASU was a game of firsts for the Arizona women’s basketball team.

It was head coach Niya Butts’ first win over Arizona’s rival since she was hired in April of 2008.

For everyone on Arizona’s roster, most notably senior Ify Ibekwe, it was the first win over ASU in their careers — snapping a Sun Devil streak of 11 straight over the Wildcats.

And for the first time in weeks — since Jan. 22 to be exact — Arizona won a game, something that didn’t surprise sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte.

“”We needed to get it done,”” Whyte said. “”I knew this one was ours. I knew we were going to win. I think we all thought that.””

After watching Ibekwe put the rest of her team on her back to the tune of 22 points and 22 rebounds, it’s easy to see why there was so much confidence coming from Arizona — even though the Wildcats were served a 32-point beat down in their trip to Tempe earlier this season.

That’s another thing to add to the list of firsts from Sunday’s game: It was the first time all season that an Arizona player willed the team to a win.

Losing just wasn’t an option for Ibekwe.

“”That was a lot of motivation, that I wasn’t really there for my team (in Tempe),”” said Ibekwe, who was limited to only 12 minutes in the season’s first matchup due to illness. “”I just had to go out there and give them my all.””

This is also the first time Butts and Arizona have been able to put together a signature victory — one to let the conference know that the Wildcats are done being a doormat in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Sunday’s win gave the Wildcats 14 wins on the season, the same total they had in all of 2009-2010.

All of last week, Butts tried to downplay how important picking up her first win over ASU could be. On Sunday, it was clear that she knew how big a win it was for the program.

It was the most animated that she’s been the entire season. Butts was pumped up after every Arizona basket. She turned around and yelled for the 3,310 in attendance to make more noise on more than one late-game occasion.

And after Arizona had done everything but make the game official, Butts had one more display to show just how much this game meant.

She sent in forward Erica Barnes to replace Ibekwe with six seconds left on the clock, and stopped Ibekwe on her way to the bench and the two embraced in a long hug.

“”Arizona is what I love,”” Butts said. “”This team is what I love. There’s nothing like this victory right now.””


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