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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Better luck for W-hoops second time in San Diego

Six days after a discouraging loss at San Diego State, the Wildcats earned their second straight victory by defeating the University of San Diego Toreros 65-55 on Friday night.

Arizona (4-1) was led by two of its post players, juniors Ify Ibekwe and Soana Lucet, who combined for 37 points in the winning effort.

“”I think today was the game where (Lucet and I) felt like we were feeding off each other,”” Ibekwe said. “”We know where each other are going to be at on the floor.””

The Wildcats overcame a sluggish start early in the first half, as an Ibekwe layup with 10:17 to go in the first half broke an 18-18 tie, and sparked a 21-11 run that carried Arizona into the locker room with a 39-29 lead.

The team was able to maintain a comfortable lead for most of the second half, due in large part to a stingy Wildcat defense that forced 21 Torero turnovers and resulted in the offense scoring 26 points off of takeaways.

Defensive improvement was the focus prior to Friday’s game, and head coach Niya Butts was pleased to see her defense step up and make plays against the Toreros (3-3).

“”I thought we played in spurts tonight, but at times there were some really good moments where I thought we were doing the things defensively that we needed to do, so I think that made the difference,”” Butts said.

In the second half, an offensive drought for Arizona that lasted more than two minutes allowed USD to claw its way within three points of tying the game, closing the gap to 53-50.

Lucet, who finished with a game-high 22 points, hit a layup at 8:28 to begin a 10-0 run for Arizona, which allowed it to pull away late in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Wildcat defense shut down the Toreros, allowing only five points in the last eight minutes of the game to secure the 65-55 victory.

“”We need to be more of a defensive team, and I think today was the day that we showed that,”” Ibekwe said.

Ibekwe finished the game with 11 rebounds, good enough to register her fifth-straight double-double, while sophomore Brooke Jackson continued to contribute on the offensive end by netting 10 points in the game.

The win for Arizona moved its record to 3-1 on the road this year, an encouraging sign for a team that is continuing to learn how to play together.

Friday’s game shed light on how the growth and development of the team will dictate how far it goes. Lucet and Ibekwe’s chemistry helped the Wildcats return to Tucson with a win.

“”4-1 is definitely better than 3-2, so anytime you can come out with a victory, we’ll take that,”” Butts said.

Arizona returns to the court again on Friday to take on the University of Nevada, Reno, beginning a two-game home stand at McKale Center.

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