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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    W-hoops end season after tourney knockout

    Heading into the Pacific 10 Conference tournament opener, the Arizona women’s basketball team played nearly every minute of the season with guard Ashley Whisonant leading the way.

    But Friday, the “”heart and soul”” was nowhere to be found – drastically hurting the Wildcats.

    While Whisonant and starting forward Rheya Neabors both missed the trip for violating team rules, Arizona (10-20, 4-15 Pac-10) stumbled to a 46-31 loss to Oregon State (12-18, 5-15) in the first round of the tournament in what was the lowest scoring effort in the school and Pac-10 tournament history.

    With two of the team’s key contributors unavailable, big holes needed to be filled, and for the Wildcats, this meant entering foreign territory for several players who were only given two days to prepare after the decision was made Wednesday morning.

    Guard and midseason walk-on Ashley Gilpin made her first career start while forward Amina Njonkou, usually a post player, found herself at the guard position from time to time.

    Freshman Tasha Dickey started at the point guard position – usually filled by the senior Whisonant.

    “”I think (the position changes) were a big factor,”” Dickey said. “”We were all playing positions that we hadn’t played all year. Posts were playing guard and I was playing the point, which I haven’t done at all this year.

    “”It was tough just trying to get used to playing as one.””

    The results were not pretty as the Wildcats opened the game shooting 5-for-20 from the field. Oregon State couldn’t do any better, failing to score in the first eight minutes of the contest.

    After a first half that saw a combined shooting percentage of 20.8, the two teams went into the half knotted at 14.

    “”We were just thinking that we needed to keep it close,”” Dickey said of the team’s mentality at the half. “”We were still fairly confident; we just needed to do the little things and not turn the ball over as much.””

    In the second half, Oregon State retained some of its form and took advantage of several of Arizona’s 26 total turnovers to open the half on an 8-2 scoring run. The Wildcats answered back and Dickey knocked down a 3-pointer with 12:25 left to bring the game back even at 22.

    The Beavers continued applying pressure, however, and used a 13-0 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.

    While Oregon State considerably improved in the second half, shooting 47.8 percent from the field, Arizona continued to struggle. The Wildcats went 7-for-24 in the half, finishing the game with a shooting percentage of 27.3.

    Doing their best to fill the hole left by leading scorer Whisonant, forwards Amina Njonkou and Ify Ibekwe both gave strong efforts. Njonkou fell one rebound shy of a double-double with nine rebounds and 15 points. Ibekwe accompanied Njonkou in the post while posting 11 rebounds with five points of her own.

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