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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wolfpack visits W-hoops

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona women’s basketball is riding a two-game winning streak as it returns home to McKale Center for a showdown with a Western Athletics Conference team.

Facing the University of Nevada-Reno in a Friday night matchup, the Wildcats (4-1) will look to continue to develop the team’s defensive presence.

“”We just have to execute — get down, play defense and no fouls,”” said junior forward Ify Ibekwe. “”We have to make our open shots and we just have to be ready to play.””

Defensive play has been key for the Wildcats this season, and has been especially emphasized by head coach Niya Butts. Arizona is currently ranked sixth in the Pacific 10 Conference, and 126th in the nation in scoring defense.

“”I think we can score more, but I think that comes with cutting down on your turnovers,”” Butts said. “”So I think limiting some of our other mistakes is going to affect the scoreboard.

“”We’re looking to create opportunities with our defense and by not turning the ball over so much.””

Arizona has the advantage when it comes to steals and rebounds, averaging 4.4 blocks and 8.6 steals per game. So far this season, the Wildcats have been plagued by turnovers. Averaging 20 turnovers per game, Arizona’s scoring is not only being compromised by its lack of possessions but also by the lack of potential for foul shots.

“”We need to be in tune to what we’re doing,”” Ibekwe said of the offense. “”Do what we have to do and score and produce offensively.””

The Wildcats have a strong, yet inexperienced offense this season. Three newcomers — Brooke Jackson, Soana Lucet and Davellyn Whyte — are the only three Arizona players to register at least 20 points in a game.

As a team, Arizona is averaging 66.9 points per game, slightly more than Nevada (5-2), with 61.4 points per game. The Wildcats also have the advantage when it comes to individual players. Ibekwe, Whyte, Lucet and Jackson all average double figures in scoring per game while the Wolfpack have only Johnna Ward, who is averaging 13.1 points.

Ibekwe has attributed the team’s recent offensive success to team chemistry.

“”I think we just have confidence in each other and in ourselves to go there, do what we have to do and play good,”” Ibekwe said.

The Wolfpack, like Arizona, is under the direction of a second-year head coach. Jane Albright, unlike Butts, has a combined 25 years of collegiate coaching experience.

Returning back home to the desert should help the Wildcats to continue their swagger. If they can continue to rack up wins in the non-conference season, Arizona may be a surprise team in the Pac-10.

“”We just have to stress that — doing well at home,”” Butts said. “”We gotta protect our home court and if we can go into it with that attitude, we have two games coming up here and we have to home serve.””

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