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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats attempt to regroup on the road against Golden Bears

Senior guard Ashley Frazier faces pressure from the ASU defense in the UA women?s loss to the Sun Devils at home Sunday. Frazier and her squad will play the California Golden Bears in Berkeley tonight.
Senior guard Ashley Frazier faces pressure from the ASU defense in the UA women?s loss to the Sun Devils at home Sunday. Frazier and her squad will play the California Golden Bears in Berkeley tonight.

The Arizona women’s basketball team will wrap up the first half of conference play with a two-game series in Northern California this weekend, beginning with a matchup against California tonight at Berkeley.

Coming off a loss to a defensive-minded ASU team, the Wildcats (9-8, 3-4 Pacific 10 Conference) will be tested against a potent Golden Bears (10-8, 4-3) team that ranks third in the Pac-10 in scoring and is currently riding a four-game winning streak.

“”We know that each individual player is good and (Cal) has a deep bench where everyone can score,”” said senior point guard Ashley Frazier. “”We just have to know our personal matchups and play them straight up.”” 

Cal is led by senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, who is fresh off a 47-point performance in the team’s win against Oregon State. The scoring outburst earned her Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.

Containing Gray-Lawson and the Bears’ offense was a focal point in this week’s practices. The Wildcats have also been emphasizing reestablishing an uptempo brand of basketball.

“”We really focused on keeping our player in front of us on defense, and just playing our game,”” Frazier said. “”You know, moving in transition, finding open looks and getting back on defense.””

Despite leading the overall series between the two teams 29-21, the Wildcats have dropped the last seven meetings with Cal.

If they want to snap that losing streak, they will need to stop the Golden Bears from exploiting Arizona’s rebounding troubles, a problem that head coach Niya Butts alluded to after the loss to ASU.

“”I’ve been harping on rebounding all year, and I think the MO on Arizona is crash the boards,”” said Butts after her team was outrebounded 48-36 against the Sun Devils.

Cal poses a similar threat for the Wildcats, as the Bears lead the Pac-10 in offensive rebounds per game.

Cutting down on second-chance opportunities in the paint will be one of the biggest keys to the game for Arizona. They will rely heavily on junior forward Ify Ibekwe to set the tone down low from the opening tip.

With her average of 12.1 rebounds per game — good enough for first in the Pac-10 and third in the nation — Ibekwe, along with junior Soana Lucet, are Arizona’s main rebounding threats.

The duo’s presence on the boards makes the Wildcat offense go. They thrive on getting the ball out quickly to outlets, which allows freshman leading scorer Davellyn Whyte to create scoring opportunities on fast breaks.

Tonight’s game will mark the first time Arizona will play a game away from McKale Center since Jan. 9, when they took on Washington. They are 3-4 outside of Tucson this semester.

Sophomore Reiko Thomas, who leads the Pac-10 in free-throw shooting, spoke positively of the opportunity to travel with the team and take on Cal, with powerhouse No. 2 Stanford looming on Saturday.

“”We’re excited about going to the Bay Area,”” Thomas said. “”Right now we’re really focused on Cal, you know, you still just want to take it one game at a time.””

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