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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    W-hoops wins Hawaii tournament in tiebreaker

    The Arizona women’s basketball team returns to Tucson as champions of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational Tournament.

    The Wildcats (2-1) were crowned champions in Hilo, Hawaii, after winning a tiebreaker – determined by least points allowed – by two points over Loyola Marymount (2-1) and Toledo (2-1), both of whom Arizona played this weekend.

    In addition to the championship, the Wildcats also had two players earn individual accomplishments. Forwards Amina Njonkou and Ify Ibewke both earned their first all-tournament honors.

    “”I will take it any day. I was pleased,”” UA head coach Niya Butts said after the game on KUTC. “”This trip has taught us a lot. It has given us a lot of experience.””

    The Wildcats finished their weekend by defeating the host Hawaii, 62-50, proving they can finish a game by being aggressive in both halves of the game.

    Arizona led the entire game against the Rainbow Wahine, despite early complications with the Hawaii zone defense. The ability to get the ball around the perimeter, then penetrate into the pain allowed guards Reiko Thomas and Ashley Frazier to create gaps in Hawaii’s defense.

    The Wildcats’ bench provided an offensive spark, giving the Arizona offense a new look and fresh legs. Performances from Beatrice Bofia, Sarah Hays and Faihza Hill gave Arizona a 12-point lead at half time.

    “”I was just ready for whenever the coach calls on me; I was into the game. When she called on me, I was like, opportunity,”” Hill said.

    The theme of the Wildcats’ first two appearances in the Islands since the 1990-2000 season was close-scoring games. Arizona won its first game 93-88 against the Loyola Marymount, but not before going into triple overtime.

    Njonkou, who was Arizona’s leading scorer for the tournament with 52 collective points, and Bofia registered a double-double.

    Njonkou led the team with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Bofia finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

    “”I tell you what, when (Bofia) stays in control, offensively she is very skilled, when she settles down she can do some things,”” Butts said. “”Amina played well for the tournament. We couldn’t have won without her.””

    The triple-overtime win tested the Wildcats’ conditioning and stamina. Their will to want it more than LMU showed through in the last few minutes of the third overtime period, Njonkou said.

    “”It has never happened in my life,”” Njonkou said in a phone interview. “”In the third (over)time, we were like, enough. We scored a couple of baskets to get ahead. We didn’t want to let that team win that game.””

    The Wildcats started to see the potential of their bench in this game, especially in the later periods. Five Wildcats scored in double figures in the game.

    Prior to tapping into their bench, Arizona suffered a heart-breaking loss to Toledo to begin the tournament. With four seconds left in the game, Toledo point guard Naama Shafir scored two free throws to launch the Rockets to a one-point victory.

    The Wildcats categorized their trip with a style of play that was explosive. Their starting five gave Arizona a chance in all the tournament games, and with help from their bench, succeeded in scoring points and holding opponents under .500 field goal percentage.

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