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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pressure turns up as season winds down

Even though there are still three weeks of Pacific 10 Conference play remaining, the Arizona women’s basketball team knows that it’s running out of chances to claim a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“”There’s absolutely more urgency,”” said third-year head coach Niya Butts. “”If you look at the way we played against ASU, it was certainly with a sense of urgency. I think we’re going to be committed to doing that the rest of the way.””

Arizona’s next chance to display that newfound sense of urgency will be tonight, when the Wildcats travel to take on Washington State (8-17, 6-7 Pac-10) — a team that Butts said is much-improved since losing 64-58 to Arizona earlier this season.

“”They’re playing with a lot more confidence,”” Butts said. “”They’re really shooting the ball well at home, and they put up about 25 3s per game. The difference now is that they’re not just shooting them now, they’re knocking them down.””

The good news for Butts is that Arizona is also playing more confidently, and the Wildcats are coming off of what Butts called the best game they’ve played this season — Sunday’s win over ASU.

“”In terms of a total team effort, everyone gave everything they had, whether it was from the floor or the bench,”” Butts said. “”We were on a tough skid … and anytime you can get a win, it’s certainly going to give everything a better feel.””

Even though Arizona was able to put together 40 minutes of consistent basketball, senior forward Soana Lucet knows that the next step is being able to do it on the road.

“”We’re not looking down on any teams, and we know (Washington State) is going to be tough,”” Lucet said. “”They’re pretty good at home and they’re a good team. We have to go out there and give effort … and take care of business.””

Freshman guard Candice Warthen came off the bench on Sunday for the first time since starting Arizona’s first matchup with ASU, but she said that her mindset hasn’t changed.

“”When I start, I try to do the same things I do off of the bench,”” Warthen said. “”I just try to give energy and defend, and do what I can.””

The Wildcats have tried six different starting lineups this season, and Butts isn’t too anxious to pick one and stick with it.

“”It’s just about trying to find the right fit,”” Butts said. “”It’s about getting energy and results. I definitely haven’t committed to a lineup all year long, so I won’t start (now).””

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