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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    W-Hoops nabs first victory in league play

    Wildcat forward Ify Ibekwe (3) passes to teammate Amina Njonkou (32) during a 65-51 Arizona win against Washington Thursday night in Bank of America Arena. Ibekwe got in early foul trouble, allowing Njonkou to record a double-double in the first half with 12 points and 11 rebounds and finish the game with 16 points and 16 boards.cer photo.
    Wildcat forward Ify Ibekwe (3) passes to teammate Amina Njonkou (32) during a 65-51 Arizona win against Washington Thursday night in Bank of America Arena. Ibekwe got in early foul trouble, allowing Njonkou to record a double-double in the first half with 12 points and 11 rebounds and finish the game with 16 points and 16 boards.cer photo.

    UA 65, UW 51

    At the beginning of the season, head coach Niya Butts preached that the key to victory lies with a strong defense showing.

    “”We have to be a good defensive team to win basketball games,”” she said. “”Defense and rebounding wins basketball games.””

    The Wildcats were able to hold the advantage in both of these aspects as Arizona out rebounded the Huskies 47-39 and held them to just 27.9 percent shooting from the field for the game as the Wildcats snapped their seven game losing streak.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team earned its first victory against the Pacific 10 Conference as it defeated the Washington Huskies 65-51 in Seattle on Thursday night.

    This win throws the Wildcats into a three-way tie for 8th place in the conference with Washington and Washington State.

    Unlike in previous games, Arizona (8-11, 1-7 Pac-10) was able to build a lead early in the second half and maintain it until the final buzzer sounded. The Wildcats were able to effectively defend the perimeter and keep Washington (5-13, 1-7) off the scoreboard.

    Washington resorted to taking long 3-point shots as they desperately tried to climb back into the game. They were 7-of-31 for the game.

    “”We knew that we needed to limit their second chance opportunities,”” said senior Amina Njonkou. “”They were not hitting the 3s, but they were crashing the boards really hard.””

    Arizona’s offense returned to the court as it built a 14-point lead by hitting shots from the free throw line. The Wildcats were 21-of-30 for the game from the charity stripe.

    After being down by one at halftime, the Wildcats opened the second half with on a hot streak. Arizona had a six-point streak early in the first half, much in thanks to fast break points. Freshman Faihza Hill hit two 3-pointers and scored 8 total points in the first five minutes of the half.

    “”Faihza (Hill) made a couple of big threes when we needed them,”” Butts said. “”We had a couple of plays in transition tonight that we haven’t seen all year long. It was certainly something to look at positive and look forward to in the future.””

    The Wildcats built their lead up to 10 points with 6:15 left in the game. Washington responded with two quick 3-pointers to cut into the lead. Arizona’s defense then stepped up and allowed the offense to again build a lead up to 5.

    Arizona committed three fouls while Washington was in the bonus, giving Washington the opportunity to dig into the Wildcat lead. The Huskies, however, failed to convert.

    The first half was evenly matched between the two teams. Both Arizona and Washington had the same number of rebounds and field goals. Just one free throw gave the Huskies the lead 30-29 at halftime.

    Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe registered two fouls early and played only 11 minutes in the opening half and recorded just 2 points. She recorded 14 points and 8 rebounds in only 30 minutes of play.

    The burden fell on Njonkou and she responded with a double-double – 12 points and 11 rebounds – in the first half alone and finished the contest with 16 points and 16 boards. The play of fellow senior Beatrice Bofia was also crucial as she filled in for Ibekwe, scoring 4 points and grabbing 2 rebounds.

    “”Amina (Njonkou) had a very big game for us,”” Butts said. “”She snapped out of whatever she was in and helped us win today, but it was certainly a team effort.””

    Arizona will complete their three-game road trip as they take on Washington State Saturday at 3 p.m. local time.

    “”It feels really good because it was a team win,”” Njonkou said. “”It wasn’t just one team doing it, it was the whole team. You could feel it in the locker room. We were all ready to go.””

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