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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

After losing handily to No. 2 Stanford last weekend, the Arizona women’s basketball team proved that it belongs in serious Pacific 10 Conference conversation with a convincing 80-50 home win against the Washington Huskies in McKale Center on Saturday.

In true home-court fashion, the Wildcats (11-10, 5-6 Pac-10) dominated both sides of the ball throughout the game against the Huskies (9-12, 4-7).

Arizona shot 43 percent in the first half and bettered that number by hitting 60 percent of its shots in the second half.

“”I think we fed off each other,”” said Arizona head coach Niya Butts. “”We started to hit some shots early, started to make some plays and our energy just carried over to the next player.””

Washington, on the other hand, couldn’t put together enough of an effort to stop the ferocious Wildcats. It was without starting center Regina Rogers, who was sidelined with a knee injury.

Huskies’ head coach Tia Jackson said Washington missed Rogers’ presence on the inside.

“”(Rogers) draws a lot of attention, so that usually opens it up for our shooters,”” Jackson said. “”Because we didn’t have that dominating presence right out of the gate, they tended to cling to our perimeter players a little bit more.””

And straight out of the gate, Arizona started putting points on the scoreboard. With 11:31 left to play in the first, the Wildcats were up 18-8 and kept the pressure on the Husky offense. Arizona would lead by 10 or more points until the halftime buzzer.

With 2:20 to play in the first half, Arizona forward Ify Ibekwe knocked down a 12-foot jumper to put the Wildcats up 30-18. With the shot, Ibekwe became the 16th player in Arizona women’s basketball history to record 1,000 points in her career.

“”It’s such a great milestone at this point in your junior season,”” Butts said. “”She has a lot more points to score.””

It was made even more special for Ibekwe by the fact that she was able to reach this mark at home, in front of the home fans.

“”It was good,”” Ibekwe said. “”This is where I started my freshman year. I was really happy.””

When the halftime buzzer rang, Arizona led 32-20.

Arizona took advantage of its momentum from the first half and carried it deep into the second half.

With 16:00 left in the game, Butts decided to sit freshman guard Davellyn Whyte after she took a few hard falls in the first half.

“”Obviously, Davellyn (Whyte) plays a lot of minutes,”” Butts said. “”She has been going really hard all year long, getting banged up. She gets on the floor, she takes charges and so after a while that takes a toll on your body.””

Arizona guard Brooke Jackson filled Whyte’s role with prowess, hitting 4-for-5 from behind the arc on her way to tallying 15 points on the game. She also grabbed seven rebounds.

Jackson, who had been struggling until Saturday’s game, decided to take advantage of her playing minutes.

“”I knew I had to step up more since Dav (Whyte) was hurting,”” Jackson said after the game. “”They just gave me open looks.””

The Wildcats secured a 19-8 run to start the half and managed to move around the Huskies’ press defense.

With 55 seconds left to play, reserve guard Reiko Thomas hit a 3-pointer to make the game 80-50 and give the Wildcats the 30-point victory.

Four Arizona players scored in double-digits, including two double-doubles recorded by forwards Ibekwe and Soana Lucet, who tallied a combined 39 points and 20 rebounds.

As Arizona heads to Oregon to take on the Ducks and then the Beavers of Oregon State, Butts said that the team will take it one game at a time in hopes of gaining further upward movement in the conference table.

“”It helps going into a road trip with two wins in a row and having a little bit of momentum,”” Butts said. “”If we can get that game at Oregon, that puts us even in the conference and gives us a chance to really take that next step.””

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