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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats mark their territory

Wildcats+mark+their+territory

After a rough road trip where the Arizona women’s basketball team dropped three Pacific 10 Conference games, the momentum is back on track with a home sweep of the Washington schools.

The Wildcats capped off the sweep with a 64-58 win over the Washington State Cougars in McKale Center on Saturday, extending their home winning streak to nine games.

“”It certainly feels good to come away with two wins at home,”” said head coach Niya Butts. “”I think our team really battled these last two games. Our backs were against the wall, but we played the way we needed to play, and so I’m certainly happy with that.””

Despite a lackluster start, the Wildcats (13-5, 4-3 Pac-10) were able to force their style of offense and keep a tenacious defensive pressure on what appeared to be a feeble Cougar (5-15, 3-5) team.

At the tip off, both teams looked as if they weren’t ready to play, where missed shots and turnover excess for both sides didn’t allow a basket to fall until three minutes into the game when Arizona forward Erica Barnes hit a close jumper to edge the Wildcats out front.

“”I think we played tough defense, but we couldn’t make a layup,”” Butts said. “”The defensive effort was really, really good, and I thought we needed to score though because its going to be tough to sustain that for another 20 minutes in the first half, but we needed to get some offensive production.””

The Wildcats were able to fix their offensive shortcomings and build a significant lead with a 13-2 run with 10:15 left on the clock.

“”It all started with our defense,”” said sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte regarding Arizona’s first-half success. “”Once we started getting stops, our shots started falling. We started to get some momentum and started to get more energy.””

The Wildcats were on top, 32-16, at the half but the Cougars weren’t ready to throw in the towel yet.

WSU’s shots started to fall, and the Cougars began a 16-5 run, closing the margin to 37-31 with 15:18 to play.

Arizona was able to regain momentum and push the game back to its style of play and pushed for the rest of the game to secure the victory.

Arizona forward Ify Ibekwe, who had been battling illness all week, managed to come two steals away from a triple-double. The senior finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and eight steals.

Ibekwe’s performance was even more impressive considering her fellow forward Soana Lucet  was scratched out of the starting lineup after waking up with a fever of 103 degrees.

Along with Ibekwe’s contributions, Whyte also tallied 16 points for the Wildcats.

For now, Butts is pleased with the way the team played at home, but she’s not ready for the squad to rest on their laurels.

“”We have to stay aggressive and our mindset has to be to continue to be that,”” she said. “”We can’t get complacent. We can’t get happy with only winning these two games in a row, so keeping us on the right track, in terms of our focus, is going to be key.””

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