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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    W-hoops falls just short of another upset

    For the second game in a row, the Arizona women’s basketball team took a top-10 team to the brink. And for the second game in a row, they fell just three points short.

    With sophomore Ify Ibekwe back in the lineup from a leg injury, the Wildcats (11-18, 4-14 Pacific 10 Conference) had an opportunity to take advantage of the vulnerable No. 9 California Golden Bears, who were mired in a two-game losing streak.

    UA jumped out to a 26-20 lead, but after surrendering a 9-0 run, Arizona was forced to play catch-up for the rest of the game. The Wildcats eventually lost 51-48.

    “”We have had droughts like that all season long and it’s put us in a hole,”” said UA head coach Niya Butts. “”We battled back and I was proud of our effort, but those droughts have hurt us.””

    The Wildcats have been plagued all season by scoring droughts, but Arizona managed to keep the score in Saturday’s game within reach.

    Ibekwe was – as she has been all seasonÿ- the star of the game and single-handedly kept it close. She played all 40 minutes of the game and scored a game-high 21 points.

    “”Ify put us on her back and carried us once again tonight,”” Butts said. “”She has the ability to do that and after missing two games, she has responded with two really good ball games.””

    Junior guard Ashley Frazier was second on the team with nine points, and senior forward Amina Njonkou added seven points.

    Freshman guard Reiko Thomas only had three points, but her layup with 52 seconds left in the second half cut the lead to 50-48. After Cal added one more free throw, Thomas had enough time to desperately shoot for a 3-point shot.

    And just like Thursday’s game at Stanford, the game ended with the Wildcats missing a game-tying shot from behind the arc.

    “”Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome of the game,”” Butts said. “”I am very proud of how hard we fought and that we did not give up again, but it’s frustrating to come up on the short end again.””

    Awards watch

    Although Arizona won’t be found at the top of the Pac-10 standings, they might be able to boast an award or two. Pac-10 officials will reveal their all-conference teams and Player-of-the-Year awards on Wednesday and Ibekwe is a legitimate contender for both.

    Ibekwe averaged a double-double on the season, and should be a lock for First-Team All-Pac-10 squad. Her statistics are among the best in the conference, but given Arizona’s struggles as a team, it will be interesting to see how Ibekwe fairs in the voting for Player of the Year.

    Conference Tournament

    The Wildcats will travel to the Galen Center this weekend to participate in the Pac-10 tournament. Arizona, the No. 9 seed, will take on Washington State, the No. 8 seed, on Thursday. The winner will play top-seeded Stanford on Friday.

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