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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

‘Cats improve to 2-0

Gordon Bates  / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

After adding four names to the Arizona women’s basketball 2011 recruiting class, head coach Niya Butts and the rest of the squad established immediate faith with their new additions by easily handling the NAU Lumberjacks 71-49 last night in McKale Center.

The Wildcats (2-0) came running out of the gate with a high-octane offense, and that kept the Lumberjacks (0-2) on their heels throughout the entire contest.

Butts was proud of her team’s effort, but some defensive miscues and turnover numbers concerned her.

“”It was a little bit sloppy,”” Butts said after the game. “”But at the end of the day we got the win, so, and I’m certainly happy about that, but we certainly have to do a better job taking care of the basketball.””

At the tip, the Wildcats came out gunning and, before NAU had time to breathe, the Wildcats had forced a 20-2 run with 11:13 left in the first half.

Even with some back and forth action, the Wildcats were able to force their style of play on the Lumberjacks for the rest of the half and didn’t let NAU come within 12 points.

The second half didn’t start with the same verve of the first for Arizona, but Arizona’s 39-19 halftime lead was enough room for them to make some mistakes.

“”I think we were trying to run more,”” forward Ify Ibekwe said. “”That’s what created a lot of mistakes.””

After outrebounding the Lumberjacks 64-28, Butts was pleased to see her stressing the importance of rebounding every day in practice was paying off.

“”We only gave them six offensive rebounds tonight, and that’s pretty dang good for us,”” Butts said. “”I don’t know if I’ve ever been sitting in a conference room and we actually had 28 offensive rebounds. I think we’ve probably given that many up before, but I don’t know if we ever personally attained that.””

After freshman forward Erica Barnes’ double-double performance in the previous contest against Wichita State, freshman guard Candice Warthen continued the rookie trend with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

“”When I first started rebounding, everything was coming to me,”” Warthen said. “”So I just kept crashing the boards, and everything happened to come on to me at the end.””

Butts always said that basketball is a game of runs, and the team needs to figure out how to try and plateau between the runs to to keep the momentum on their side.

“”I think if we can limit defensive mistakes (in between runs) and keep those to a minimum when we do have those peaks and valleys, then they can be a lot less noticeable,”” Butts said.

Looking ahead, the Wildcats head to Oxford, Miss., to take on the Ole Miss Rebels on Thursday, and preparations are already underway.

“”It’s always running in transition, rebounding and defense,”” said Ibekwe, talking about the practice emphasis. “”That’s our main focus. We can score, everyone on our team can score, and so our main focus this whole year is just rebounding and being consistent on defense.””

 

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