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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats dominate in exhibition

    Arizona point guard Ashley Frazier (11) fights with an Oklahoma Panhandle State University player in an 85-33 Wildcat win in McKale Center on Tuesday night.  Frazier finished the game with 13 points, seven assists and four steals.
    Arizona point guard Ashley Frazier (11) fights with an Oklahoma Panhandle State University player in an 85-33 Wildcat win in McKale Center on Tuesday night. Frazier finished the game with 13 points, seven assists and four steals.

    In the Arizona women’s basketball team’s lone exhibition game of the 2008-09 season, the Niya Butts era got off to an impressive start in an 85-33 victory over the Division II Lady Aggies of Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

    While the final score was imposing, the first five minutes of the game were rusty.

    In that span, Arizona committed several fouls and shot just 1-of-7 from the floor, including four missed layups. The sloppy play put the Wildcats in an early 5-4 hole with 14:54 left in the first half.

    The difference from that point on, however, was like night and day.

    After a stoppage of play, junior point guard Ashley Frazier drained a three-pointer from the left side that ignited a 26-4 Wildcat run and put the game away.

    Arizona was dominant in all facets of the game during that stretch, and it all started with Frazier, who finished with 13 points, seven assists, and four steals.

    “”I thought Ashley played very well,”” said Butts, UA’s first-year head coach. “”I’m very pleased with the way she played and the way she controlled the game. She had seven assists and just three turnovers, and I’ll take those numbers anytime.””

    A large part of the Wildcats success came down low, where senior forwards Ify Ibekwe and Amina Njonkou overpowered everything the Lady Aggies threw at them. Njonkou was the only player in the game to reach a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Ibekwe had a game-high four blocks.

    The dominance down low didn’t stop there, however, thanks to the efforts of seniors Sarah Hays and Beatrice Bofia off the bench. Hays had 12 points and six rebounds and Bofia added six points and four boards.

    “”When we get the ball down low and convert, we are confident,”” Njonkou said. “”We came in to execute and play well, and we did that.””

    One of the keys to success for Arizona this season will be the contributions of the five freshmen on its roster, and if Tuesday was any indication of how they will play, the future is bright.

    Reiko Thomas and Jhakia McDonald – both freshmen – started alongside Frazier in the Wildcat three-guard backcourt and both shined in their first collegiate action. Both players were on the court for more than 35 minutes and Thomas, a Harbor City, Calif., native, scored a game-high 20 points.

    “”Playing against another team for the first time since July was great,”” Thomas said. “”We played really well.””

    The Arizona defense was suffocating, as the Wildcats showed their superior athleticism, not allowing the Lady Aggies to get any sort of penetration and forcing them to take shots they didn’t want to take.

    “”We improved a lot defensively since the (Red/Blue) scrimmage last week,”” Thomas said.

    Arizona finished with 14 steals and five blocks, and allowed the Lady Aggies to shoot just 28.2 percent from the floor.

    While Butts was pleased with the effort her team showed, she’s aware that there is a long road ahead.

    “”We have a lot of work to do,”” Butts said. “”We need to be more consistent shooting the ball, and we really need to focus on limiting turnovers and keeping possession.

    “”I saw a team that responded to a challenge. We challenged them to take care of the basketball, to do a better job on the boards, and to do a better job on defense,”” she added. “”I’m very pleased with our effort.””

    And 1

    When news broke that Democrat Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States, Butts was asked whether she was a Republican or Democrat, and her answer was simple.

    “”I’m a Wildcat,”” she said.

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