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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


W-hoops sweeps at tip off tourney

The Arizona women’s basketball team did not back down under New York’s bright lights. It will return to Tucson with a 2-0 record after sweeping both games at the Iona College Tip-Off tournament in New Rochelle, N.Y.

“”We came out with two victories and that’s something we hadn’t done in a long time, so we’re going home feeling pretty good,”” head coach Niya Butts said.

Although the Wildcats (2-0) braved extra minutes to pull out a win against the Iona Gaels on Saturday, Arizona did not need the overtime against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks, winning 91-67 yesterday.

The Wildcats’ potent offense fired on all cylinders, shooting a staggering 46 percent from the field and a lights-out 56 percent from the three-point line. 

The win was a collective effort, with each of the 10 Wildcat players recording at least one point. Arizona also flexed its bench depth with sophomore Reiko Thomas, who led scoring for Arizona with 17 points.

“”We’re going to be asking our bench all season long to come in and be productive,”” Butts said. “”When their name and number is called they have to come in … we shouldn’t experience a drop-off, and that’s exactly what happened today.””

Arizona trailed Miami 5-6 in the beginning of the first half before sophomore Brooke Jackson hit a three-pointer to put the Wildcats on top for good.

Jackson matched her point total against Iona by totaling 13 points against the RedHawks (1-1) on Sunday, and junior forward Ify Ibekwe recorded her second double-double of the weekend, tallying 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Returning to the court in the second half with a 50-30 lead, Arizona quelled any fears of allowing another second-half letdown by opening up with a quick 9-2 run, and was able to maintain its lead due largely to its prowess in the paint, turning in a rebounding margin of 55-29 over the RedHawks.

The Wildcats demonstrated their mettle by winning two games on the road to open the season, including a gutsy win on Saturday and a dominating win on Sunday, and returned home with some confidence early in the year.

“”I just feel like this bunch is growing and growing, and we’re going to do some good things if we continue to get better,”” Butts said.

The Wildcats breathed a sigh of relief after a close call on Saturday against Iona, staving off a 21-point comeback by the Gaels (1-1) to win in overtime 75-70. 

“”Iona gave us a tough game, they outplayed us in the second half, but I’m proud of our bunch for pulling it out,”” Butts said after the game.

Freshman Davellyn Whyte shined in her regular season debut as a Wildcat, earning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Against Iona, Whyte led all scoring with 27 points, including a huge three-pointer on the first possession in overtime that shifted the game’s momentum back in Arizona’s favor.

“”It went really good tonight,”” Whyte said after the game. “”I had a lot of energy and that traveled over (to the court).””

After leading 38-21 at the end of the first half, the Wildcats led by 21 points with 16:54 remaining in the game before the Gaels went on a 20-5 push over the next 11 minutes that cut the lead to just six. 

Arizona responded with Whyte making consecutive shots to push the lead to 10 with 3:38 remaining, but experienced a scoring drought the rest of the way, allowing Iona to push the game into overtime.

“”The first half, we were a little more confident. In the second half, we played not to lose, and we allowed them to come back on us,”” Butts said.

“”We let (Iona) back in the game, and we could have let them take over,”” Whyte said. “”But we still had the Arizona mentality and we got the win.””

The Wildcats were out-rebounded in Saturday’s game and were outscored 23-2 in second chance opportunities.  Fortunately, Arizona stayed hot from beyond the arc the entire game, shooting at 45 percent from the three-point line to offset its troubles in the paint.

Ibekwe was a constant for Arizona on both sides of the ball, registering a double-double and a career-high 22 rebounds, while chipping in 11 points and seven steals to help the Wildcats to a hard-fought first win.

Butts will spend the week prepping her team for another road game against San Diego State on Nov. 21st.

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