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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


W-hoops drops Cougars

Arizona women’s basketball still has a shot at the NCAA Tournament after a 62-60 win against the Washington State Cougars in the first round of the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Wildcats (14-16, 6-12 Pacific 10 Conference) came into last night’s contest after a five-game losing streak but were able to break the streak with their third win against the Cougars (8-22, 3-15) this season.

“”We knew that it would be a tough game going in to play Washington State,”” Arizona head coach Niya Butts said. “”We beat them the two previous times and it is always tough to beat a team multiple times in one year.

“”I’m proud of this group. It’s about surviving and advancing and that’s what we did.””

For the first time this season, Arizona forward Ify Ibekwe, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, did not start the game.

“”It was team issues and that’s where I would like to leave it,”” Butts said. “”But I would like to say about Miss Ibekwe is that she handled herself with class and with poise in that situation. She accepted responsibility and she came in and had a heck of a game for us and certainly showed her leadership.””

Despite the restructured line-up, Arizona came running straight out of the gate.

The Wildcats managed to take an early 8-3 lead off a jumper by forward Amanda Pierson with 14:05 left in the first half.

Arizona maintained a lead of at least five points throughout the first half.

With 2:47 left until the break, a layup by Davellyn Whyte gave the Wildcats a lead of 32-20. The Cougars managed to rally and cut their deficit in half, going into the locker room with Arizona leading, 33-27.

After the intermission, the Wildcats turned to Whyte and forward Soana Lucet to keep the offensive pressure on the Cougars.

With 11:30 remaining, a Lucet free throw gave Arizona a 14 point lead, its largest of the game.

Washington State wasn’t fazed and managed to push a 14-8 run on the back of guard April Cook.

The Wildcats barely managed to hold off the Cougars as WSU again ran for five straight points, leaving Arizona with only a two-point advantage and less than a minute left.

With two ticks left on the clock, Cook threw up a desperate 3-pointer from the half-court line that fell short, giving the Wildcats the 62-60 victory.

Lucet managed to tally a game-high 22 points on 10-for-14 field goal attempts and worked the boards with seven rebounds.

“”(Lucet) was outstanding tonight. She ran the floor extremely well, and we did a good job of getting her the basketball.”” Butts said. “”I think we try to reward players who run the floor and tonight we did that. Unfortunately sometimes we had some turnovers trying to do that, but for the most part it was a good result.””

Despite not starting, Ibekwe scored 14 points and hauled in 10 rebounds.

“”It was a downfall that I did have to come off the bench, but I don’t think it’s tougher.”” Ibekwe said. “”I felt like I had to make up for the missed time and get in there and give it all I had.””

Today, the Wildcats take on No. 2 and Pac-10 regular season champion Stanford.

The Cardinal have beaten the Wildcats by a combined 48-points in two regular season games, and Arizona will have to throw everything they have at the Cardinal to even keep up.

“”I think our team has fallen hard and played hard throughout the Pac-10 season, and so I don’t think our effort is going to be any different,”” Butts said. “”I do think that when you get to tournament time it’s a do or die type of deal, and it’s about survival, and I think they’ll leave it all on the floor.””

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