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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Women’s hoops wins home opener

    The Arizona women’s basketball team entered Friday’s home opener against Portland with something to prove – that it could make layups.

    After missing 51 in its first three games, Arizona (2-2) came out firing under the net with 20 successful layups, en route to a 78-71 win over Portland (2-1) in McKale Center.

    Forward Ify Ibekwe and guard Marie McGee stole the show with career nights, combining for 38 points off the bench. In the freshman’s first career double-double, Ibekwe scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds – both personal bests – in spite of battling calf cramps after a nasty fall in the second half.

    “”As a team, it meant a lot because I was there to step up and just be there,”” Ibekwe said. “”It was good to just be that person.””

    McGee shared the spotlight by scoring 17 points in 21 minutes – more points than she had all last season.

    The Wildcats scored 42 points from the bench.

    “”Depth is huge,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”We’re much more athletic, we have better depth and we’re quicker (than last year). I think we just want our young kids to continue to improve and our (veteran) players to continue to improve.””

    Guard Ashley Whisonant also contributed to Arizona’s fast-paced, give-and-go bonanza in the second half, inciting the crowd and building a substantial lead. The senior played a career-high 40 minutes, getting 13 points and 10 assists, as starting guard Rhaya Neabors battled illness and played only 23 minutes.

    Arizonam, which shot 54.5 percent from the field, scored 18 points off fast breaks and 38 points off turnovers.

    “”To get four players in double (digits), what it means is you have a lot of different weapons,”” Bonvicini said. “”Our kids just work hard, and I think we’ve improved from last weekend. This was a good victory for us.””

    But as the shots poured through the net, a plethora of turnovers on the floor plagued both squads. Arizona committed a season-high 27 turnovers, while forcing Portland’s 31. Miscues caused a lack of momentum on both ends of the court at the beginning of the first half.

    Eventually, Arizona got consecutive layups from Whisonant and Neabors to put the Wildcats up 18-16. The Wildcats then went on a 12-3 run that led to a 41-26 halftime advantage.

    “”That’s my job – I’m suppose to get everybody in the post involved,”” Whisonant said. “”It was fun to see everyone do well.””

    Portland shot 10-of-26 from 3-point range, led by guard Laiken Dollente (23 points, 5-of-8 3s).

    Having beat Washington State and led Idaho on the road by double digits, Portland brought a dangerous team with experience on the road, Bonvicini said.

    “”It was a good game against a very smart team,”” she said.

    And 1

    Guard Jessica Arnold remained sidelined following a concussion she suffered Nov. 5 against Vanguard. Arnold did not travel with the team on Sunday’s red-eye flight to Raleigh via New York City.

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