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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

W-hoops lose close one in Southern California

The Arizona women’s basketball team added a fourth game to their losing streak in a close battle against USC in Los Angeles Thursday night, 55-53.

The Wildcats (13-15, 6-11 Pacific 10 Conference) came into Thursday night’s contest needing a win and the momentum that comes with one, but were unable to shake the Trojans’ solid perimeter shooting. Arizona now sits with a 2-6 road record in conference play.

Going into the USC (17-11, 11-6) game with three straight losses, the Wildcats were determined to play competitively for the full 40 minutes.

“”We need to play a full game, first half and second half.”” said senior pointguard Ashley Frazier before the game. ””We have to stay focused and determined.””

But because of the Wildcats’ mediocre first-half play, they were unable to follow through.

The game was close in the early minutes of the first half, with USC up 14-11 after freshman Davellyn Whyte sunk a 3-pointer with 11:45 left in the first.

USC maintained that lead all the way into the locker room, ahead 32-20 at halftime. Arizona struggled to get anything going in the first 20 minutes of play, especially with forward Ify Ibekwe benched for most of the half with two fouls.

“”Anytime you don’t have one of your starters and one of the best players on your team on the floor, offensively that’s going to hurt you,”” said head coach Niya Butts. “”It affects our offensive flow, but she got in there in the second half and she went to work which was what we needed her to do.””

USC kept the offensive pressure up coming into the second half, maintaining a lead of nine or more points throughout the first eight-and-a-half minutes.

But Arizona finally bounced back and turned the tables on the Trojans with a 10-2 rally courtesy of Ibekwe and Whyte, who helped bring the Wildcats within three with 8:42 on the clock.

With 55 seconds left on the clock, Arizona guard Brooke Jackson hit a 3-pointer, once again cutting the deficit to three.

Jackson regained the ball with the clock winding down. She attempted another 3-point shot, but this time was unable to convert as time expired.

“”It was a perfectly executed play,”” Butts said. “”The shot just didn’t go down for us, which was unfortunate because we really fought back and had a good second half.””

Despite Arizona’s solid comeback, the Wildcats had difficulty at the free throw line, shooting only 65 percent as a team. The Wildcats also allowed 20 turnovers.

“”It’s a 40-minute basketball game and all of your mistakes tend to add up,”” Butts said. “”Certainly our free throws and our turnovers hurt us a lot.””

The Wildcats are still looking to reach the sixth spot in the Pac-10 in order to earn a first round bye in the conference tournament next weekend. 

“”In terms of a team playing three games versus four, it certainly makes a major difference,”” Butts said of the conference tournament. “”If you can get into that sixth place spot, it would certainly be ideal, but if that doesn’t happen, you have to be ready to play no matter what day you have to play on.””

The loss Thursday night puts Arizona in a shaky position, as Oregon’s game results this weekend will determine its fate. The Ducks head to the northwest this weekend to take on the Washington State Cougars and the Washington Huskies, currently eighth and ninth in the conference, respectively.

Regardless of the outcome of Thursday night’s game, the Wildcats can go into their last regular season game against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday with a little more confidence due to their second half play against USC.

“”I was really proud of their efforts,”” Butts said of the team.

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