Wildcats scratch Huskies

Dan Kohler

Drawing on its depth was the biggest key for the Arizona women’s basketball team as it completed a season sweep of the Washington schools after claiming victory over the Washington Huskies, 74-66, in Seattle on Saturday.

For the Wildcats, (16-9, 7-7 Pacific 10 Conference) a quick transition offense was able to force a feeble Washington (10-14, 5-10 Pac-10) squad on its heels for the entire afternoon.

Head Coach Niya Butts was most impressed with the cohesive play of her team.

“”(I’m proud of) the way they came out today and really played together,”” she said. “”Our bench was awesome, they had tons of energy and they came in and kept the momentum going. It actually gave us a push. We went ahead with the second unit in the ball game, so I couldn’t be happier with the way our team has performed over the last three games.””

Starting from the tip, Arizona was able to maintain pressure on the timid Husky defense for the entire game.

After forward Soana Lucet laid the ball in to put Arizona on the board in the first minute of play, the Wildcats would control the scoreboard for the rest of the game.

With 5:22 left in the second half, Butts decided to rest playmakers Lucet, Davellyn Whyte and Ify Ibekwe to see if her bench could make an impact.

The bench stepped up to the challenge.

On the backs of reserves Brooke Jackson and Tasha Dickey, the Wildcats took a 38-26 lead with 52 ticks left in the half.

Arizona’s second unit performance has been vital to its success as a team, and, with the solid showing on Saturday, the Wildcats have shown how far they have matured since the start of the season.

“”We always talk about when your name is called you have to be ready and make the most of your minutes,”” Butts said. “”And they certainly did that.””

The Wildcats kept the 38-26 lead at the buzzer.

One of the biggest defensive successes for the Wildcats in the first half was keeping Washington standout Kristi Kingma in check.

“”We were faced guarding her, (so we) really (stuck) with her, not allowing her any space,”” Butts said. “”We really did a great job in the first half.””

Kingma, unfazed by the attention, came out gunning.

“”In the second half, she hit some tough shots,”” Butts said. “”She got a little bit of separation, and she only needs an inch or so to get her shot off, you expect good players to make good plays and that’s what she did.””

With 16:18 left to play, Kingma hit a 3-pointer to bring Washington to a four-point deficit.

The Wildcats didn’t let the Huskies come any closer for the rest of the game, securing the 74-66 win.

Despite not getting her usual amount of playing time, Ibekwe still managed to rack up 24 points and haul in six rebounds. Lucet also added up 14 points for her team’s cause.

Jackson was the most prolific off the bench for the Wildcats, scoring 11 and tallying three assists and two rebounds.

For the Huskies, Kingma finished with a team high 21 points.

After a needed confidence-booster weekend for the Wildcats, they return home to Tucson this weekend to take on the southern California schools.

In their last meetings, UCLA and Southern California showed just how tough the Los Angeles faithful can be, and Arizona will definitely be banking on the home crowd to give the visitors a similar type of hospitality.