W-hoops’ cold spell results in loss to WSU

Nicole Dimtsios

Ify Ibekwe is a centerpiece for the Arizona women’s basketball team, and it showed just how much she contributes to the team’s overall effort each game. She was certainly missed in Arizona’s contest against Washington State Thursday night as the Wildcats’ offense sputtered in the second half of their contest with the Cougars, losing at home, 63-56. Ibekwe, who is injured with a strained knee, averages 15.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.

On the floor, the other Arizona players missed Ibekwe’s presence.

“”We missed Ify a lot,”” said senior forward Amina Njonkou. “”When Ify is on the court, the opponents focus on her and that gets the other players open.””

Njonkou would record a technical in the game and eventually foul out with less than a minute left in the game. She finished with 16 points for Arizona (10-16, 3-12 Pacific 10 Conference).

“”Obviously, you miss production from a rebounding standpoint, from a offensive standpoint, from another body out there to make a difference,”” said UA head coach Niya Butts. “”We miss the production.””

Although Butts knew Ibekwe would not start the game, she contributed the loss to the trends of a lack of energy and focus in practice.

“”I would say it started in this full week of practice,”” she said. “”We pretty much played the way we practiced tonight. I think it’s a direct result of that.””

Because of the injury to Ibekwe, the Wildcats’ lineup was shifted. Arizona came out aggressive and held the lead for the first six minutes of the game. Senior Beatrice Bofia got the start at center, and recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Freshmen Courtney Clements registered 13 points while Reiko Thomas scored 12 points. Arizona’s offensive production was down, but not limited to one player. For the second game in a row, the Wildcats registered four in double figures but were unable to secure wins in either contest. As a team, they shot just less than 30 percent for the game.

Arizona came out in the second half and scored the first two points, and was in the game until the 13-minute mark. After tying the game with 12:26 left in the second half, the Cougars (11-16, 4-12) took off. They went on a 16-5 run over the next 11 minutes. Washington State hit three from beyond the arc, and built up their lead for the rest of the game.

“”We had opportunities in this basketball game to win. Even without (Ibekwe) we certainly had opportunities,”” Butts said. “”That’s certainly no excuse for why we didn’t win.””

Led in scoring by Danielle LeNoir, the Cougars kept a steady lead over the Wildcats. With 50 seconds left in the game, Arizona had cut the lead down to six points, but could not complete a comeback.

Butts noted that she could see the game slipping away during the midpoint of the first half.

“”We just didn’t do our job all over the floor, whether its guard, post, whomever,”” she said. “”We didn’t play Arizona basketball tonight and I think we lost because of it.””