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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    W-hoops to battle Devils

    The women’s basketball team’s version of the Duel in the Desert kicks off Saturday as the Wildcats take on ASU in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. This game, which will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona at noon, marks the first meeting of the year between the two Arizona rivals.

    Despite individual acceleration in games against the Pacific 10 Conference this year, Arizona has dropped its first six conference games. Most recently, Arizona’s loss against UCLA put the Wildcats at the bottom of the conference.

    But despite a consistently stingy defense, it’s been the UA’s offense that has considerably stalled. The Wildcats shot less than 25 percent from the field against UCLA in a 48-38 loss in McKale Center. UA head coach Niya Butts was disappointed with the outcome of the game, but knows offensive struggles are to blame.

    “”When you shoot 23 percent from the field, it’s very difficult to win a game,”” she said.

    The offense has been the problem of late for the Wildcats as they haven’t been able to keep up the pace with conference opponents. After its loss against UCLA, Arizona had a week off before heading up to Tempe to take on ASU, an advantage that senior Amina Njonkou said will benefit the Wildcats in their preparation.

    “”It’s up to us to use those days to our advantage, because it’s not fun to be 0-6 in conference,”” Njonkou said. “”The coaches are great at helping us get ready, but it’s up to us when it comes time to play the game.””

    In contrast to Arizona, the Sun Devils have won four straight games in the Pac-10 – all against opponents Arizona has already fallen to.

    ASU leads the series against the Wildcats 42-25 all-time, and boasts a 23-11 mark against the UA in Tempe. ASU has swept the two yearly contests for three years in a row, including eight out of the last nine. Since 2004, ASU has an 85 percent winning percentage at home.

    ASU’s strength lies in the hands of its senior class including Briann January, Sybil Dosty and Lauren Lacey. Dosty – UA volleyball player Whitney Dosty’s sister – is ASU’s leading rebounder and falls below Arizona’s sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe among Pac-10 leaders, as the Sun Devil sits in sixth place. Lacey is second in field goal percentage in conference play.

    January suffered from an early season knee injury and has averaged 16.5 points and 5.5 assists per game since returning. In the four-game winning streak, ASU has only allowed an average of 51 points per game and forced an average of 21.5 turnovers per game.

    The Wildcats have also had their share of injuries this season, including Tasha Dickey, who had season-ending knee surgery earlier this year. Most recently, Arizona’s starting freshmen guard Reiko Thomas suffered an ankle injury against USC and did not play in the game against UCLA. Her average of 11.7 points a game was dearly missed on the offensive side.

    “”Reiko had a slight ankle sprain,”” Butts said. “”She’s going to rehab it, and hopefully we’ll have her back.””

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