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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshman Whyte finds comfort in W-hoops win

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Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman guard Davellyn Whyte presented head coach Niya Butts with a gift before yesterday’s game. It was a small black bow to be worn in Butts’ hair, and attached to the bow was the freshman’s promise that she would play better.

Whyte, the 2009 Gatorade Arizona High School player of the year, delivered on her promise yesterday, providing a glimpse of her future by leading the Arizona women’s basketball team to its second exhibition win of the year on Sunday. The Wildcats took down Grand Canyon University in dominating fashion 83-56 at McKale Center.

Whyte tied for the team lead in scoring with 14 points while also bringing down seven rebounds.

“”Thursday was just my first time (in a game situation) so I didn’t know what to expect, and now I’m just getting into the swing of things a little better,”” Whyte said of playing in her second game as a Wildcat.

The Phoenix native was held scoreless most of the first half, until she buried a three-pointer with 1:53 left in the half to break the drought. Whyte finished the half with five points before totaling nine more in the second half of the team’s winning effort.

“”I think (Whyte) calmed down a little bit, she’s settling down and doing a better job of just keeping herself under control,”” Butts said.

Division II Grand Canyon was able to take advantage of Arizona turnovers by scoring early, prompting Butts to call a timeout with 10:44 left in the first half.

Junior forward Ify Ibekwe, who recorded her second straight double-double by notching 10 points and 12 rebounds, felt the timeout helped slow the game down for the team.

“”We were just a little fatigued,”” said Ibekwe. “”(Coach) just told us to calm down, and said, you know, ‘C’mon, let’s play.'””

The Wildcats trailed 16-17 with 9:03 to play before Ibekwe’s inside bucket and back-to-back three pointers by senior Ashley Frazier and sophomore Brooke Jackson jumpstarted the Arizona offense. They went on a 19-8 run to enter the locker room with a 35-25 halftime lead. 

Arizona began crashing the boards late in the first half to stifle Grand Canyon’s offense, taking away second-chance opportunities for the Antelopes. Arizona continued to improve its rebounding margin in the second half, opening up fast-break chances that fed directly into the new up-tempo style of offense.

The “”run and gun”” style was on full display in the second half, as Arizona scored four quick points in less than a minute, capped by a Frazier three-pointer at 19:11 that gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead. That seemed to squash any hopes Grand Canyon had of a second-half comeback.

Reduced turnovers in the second half helped Arizona’s offense maintain its rhythm en route to the 83-56 win, but both Butts and Whyte saw room for improvement.

“”We turned the ball over way too much, and going into regular season play we need to do a better job taking care of the ball,”” Butts said. “”A lot of that is just slowing down and making better reads … and that’s going to come with a little more time.

“”We’re also meshing together more and coming together as a team, so we’re still learning to play with each other,”” Whyte added.

The 23 assists on the offensive side of the ball was proof of how the Arizona team with many new faces continues to grow and gel on the court. 

Ibekwe, Whyte and Jackson all scored in double figures, while three more Wildcats notched nine points, giving the offense confidence knowing that several players are able to contribute.

“”I think we’ve got a special group, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,”” Butts added.

Sunday’s win completed the exhibition season for Arizona and they will travel to New Rochelle, N.Y., to compete in the Iona College Tip-Off Tournament beginning Saturday, Nov. 14.

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