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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

‘Cats rewrite story on road with win

Saturday’s game was a familiar situation with a not-so-familiar outcome.

In danger of falling into the bottom tier of the Pacific 10 Conference, the Arizona women’s basketball team salvaged their road trip by taking down Oregon State 60-55 on Saturday night.

The Wildcats (12-11, 6-7 Pac-10) bounced back after a loss to Oregon with a resilient win against the Beavers (9-14, 1-11) and put an end to their troubles on the road after losing their last four contests away from Tucson, dating back to Jan. 7.

Although a familiar headache returned for Arizona in getting out-rebounded 37-23 by Oregon State, head coach Niya Butts was just happy to escape Corvallis, Ore., with the win.

“”To win on the road any place is tough,”” Butts said. “”So we’re going to take this one, and we will worry about everything we did wrong a little later on and enjoy this win.””

Arizona had difficulty igniting their offense early in the game as 12 first-half turnovers kept the Wildcats from finding a rhythm.

Junior Ify Ibekwe was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes, but sophomore Reiko Thomas picked up the slack for the Wildcats by netting nine first-half points to keep the deficit at 28-24 entering halftime.

It looked like Arizona’s offensive lulls would continue in the second half as they were unable to get anything started in the first eight minutes.

Trailing 43-34 with 11:46 remaining in the game, it seemed as if the Wildcats might concede and accept the loss on the road, but a 3-pointer by sophomore Brooke Jackson sent a pulse through the Arizona offense. 

The trey began a 16-2 scoring run for the Wildcats, capped off with a jumper by junior Soana Lucet that gave Arizona a 50-45 lead with 4:54 left in the game.

“”I thought we settled down a little bit offensively, and we started to execute a little bit better,”” Butts said of the difference of play in the second half. “”We were down a lot of the game, and our kids battled back, and we very easily could have folded.””

The last minutes of the game displayed marked improvement for this Wildcat team.  There have been games this season where Arizona has held a comfortable lead over their opponent in the second half only to give it right back and lose the game.

Saturday was a different story, however. The Wildcats proved their mettle in the final minutes by taking care of one of the most fundamental aspects of the game — hitting free throws.

“”To go 14 of 18 (from the free throw line) and make them down the stretch was huge tonight,”” Butts said.

When the final whistle blew on Saturday night, instead of kicking themselves for coughing up a lead late in the game, the Wildcats were able to celebrate and take a big step forward after hanging on to a hard-fought win on the road.

“”It’s a huge win for us,”” Butts said. “”To start the second half of the conference 3-1 is a tremendous job for this team.””

 

Up Next

Arizona will play their final non-conference game of the year when they welcome Cal State Northridge (4-18, 2-9 Big West Conference) to McKale Center on Tuesday. Tip-off for the game is set for 8 p.m.

 

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