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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Wildcats fend off comeback to extend season

What could’ve been the most heartbreaking season-ending loss for the Arizona women’s basketball team turned into sheer joy by game’s end, with the Wildcats securing a 90-89 win over the Oregon Ducks in the first round of the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon.

The Wildcats (20-10, 10-8 Pac-10) were up by as many as 18 points, but a determined Ducks (13-17, 4-14 Pac-10) team charged back in the second half to lead the game until the final minute.

“”I’m very happy to come out with the win,”” head coach Niya Butts said. “”Because in March, it’s about surviving and advancing.””

“”We can’t dwell too much on what happened today. We have to get ready and move forward to tomorrow.””

Arizona led the first half, completely running over what looked like an exhausted Ducks team with its quick transition offense.

After already beating Oregon by 23 points in Eugene on Saturday, the 51-36 Wildcat halftime lead into the locker room didn’t surprise anyone.

Coming back onto the floor, though, it looked like the teams had switched places.

“”It was a tale of two halves,”” Butts said. “”Obviously, the first half was solid for us. We didn’t do a great job on the boards, but my anticipation was that we would come back out second half and really tighten up, but I think it got a little worse.””

The Ducks opened the second half hot and narrowed the deficit to 13 with 10:25 left to play.

Over the next two and a half minutes the Ducks took Arizona on a 10-2 run, cutting the Arizona lead down to five.

The Ducks refused to let off of the gas pedal, jumping ahead 87-86 with 2:13 left to play.

Oregon maintained the lead until 14 seconds remained, when Arizona inbounded to Shanita Arnold who dished it down low to Soana Lucet for the go ahead lay-up.

Oregon’s Amanda Johnson led the charge for her team with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

For the Wildcats, Davellyn Whyte and Lucet each tallied 23 points.

Despite holding on for the victory, the Wildcats found out they are not as invincible as they were finishing the regular season.

And with Southern California holding on to beat the Washington State Cougars 78-66, tonight’s contest between the Trojans and the Wildcats could not only have Pac-10 implications but NCAA implications as well.

But for now, Butts is happy that her team advanced out of the first round.

“”I’m proud of our girls,”” Butts said. “”We got stops when we needed to down the stretch, and that’s what its all about.””

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