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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cold spell kills Wildcats

    UA forward Ify Ibekwe hauls in a rebound during a 60-52 Sun Devil win Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. After leading 28-23 at halftime, the Wildcats were held scoreless for more than 8 minutes in the second half and eventually fell to ASU for the second time this season.
    UA forward Ify Ibekwe hauls in a rebound during a 60-52 Sun Devil win Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. After leading 28-23 at halftime, the Wildcats were held scoreless for more than 8 minutes in the second half and eventually fell to ASU for the second time this season.

    For 31 minutes of Saturday’s game against Pacific 10 Conference rival ASU, the Arizona women’s basketball team played as well as it has all season.

    But the nine minutes the UA didn’t play well resulted in a 19-2 Sun Devil run and gave ASU a 60-53 win in the second installment of the women’s basketball version of the Duel in the Desert.

    “”Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome as far as what’s on the scoreboard,”” UA head coach Niya Butts said after Saturday’s game. “”I thought we competed and played pretty hard. We executed the game plan and did an excellent job all week long (in practice), but didn’t get the results we wanted.””

    Arizona (10-15, 3-11 Pac-10) played a brilliant first half in front of a season-high crowd of 4,136. Freshman guard Courtney Clements and junior guard Ashley Frazier got the scoring started in the beginning, alternating 3-pointers to combine for the team’s first 12 points.

    Frazier was also on top of her game defensively, stifling ASU guards Dymond Simon and Briann January early.

    The combination of tight man-to-man defense and 12-of-28 shooting in the first half gave the Wildcats a 26-12 lead.

    Not to be upset, however, the No. 25 Sun Devils (20-6, 12-2) rallied in the second half. In addition to shooting 4-of-5 from 3-point range, ASU held the Wildcats scoreless for a mind-blowing span of 8:35.

    “”In the normal course of a game you’re going to have some scoring spurts and some scoring droughts, and it seems like our droughts last a lot longer than most teams,”” Butts said. “”But credit ASU for making some big plays.””

    Clements and Frazier both finished with team-high 13 points. Senior Amina Njonkou and sophomore Ify Ibekwe were the other two Wildcats in double-figures, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively.

    Ibekwe also grabbed 20 rebounds in the game, tying her career high.

    “”We came out and we just played basketball,”” Ibekwe said. “”I think we played really well. We executed, we had less turnovers and we rebounded, but while we weren’t scoring, they were scoring.””

    Although it was another conference loss, it was an inspired effort by Butts and the Wildcats against a Sun Devil team that is as talented as any in the country.

    “”I thought U of A came out and played great today,”” said ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne. “”We knew this is always a tough game and you can just throw the records out the window. We knew this would be a tough, hard-fought game because of their excellent defense.””

    And while the season might be lost in terms of conference or national championships, the building blocks for the future continue to fall into place.

    “”We started to come together,”” Butts said of her team’s effort. “”(The game) showed the development of our team and we’ve shown some good leadership.””

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