March 17, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - In the opening round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball fell on the road to Utah State, 103-95. Arizona will end the season with a record of 21-12 overall and collected the most wins in a season since the 2003-04 season (24). Utah State advances to 18-14 overall and will face the winner of BYU/Denver on Saturday.
"We just couldn't stop them," head coach Niya Butts said. "We played zero defense. Utah State is a good basketball team and they are well coached but we were awful defensively. Utah State did a great job taking advantage of our shortcomings tonight."
Senior forward Soana Lucet was nothing short of spectacular with a career best 35 points on 14-of-22 from the field, 1-of-2 from three-point range and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. She also pulled down 11 rebounds for her only double-double of the season and the fifth of her career. Keeping herself out of foul with just two, she also managed to grab three steals.
"Soana's performance tonight was tremendous," Butts said. "I hate to see her go out this way but she did everything she could for us tonight. She really played some great basketball down stretch and was a huge asset for us."
Lucet was one of three Wildcats to score in double digits with 24 points from sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte and 15 points from senior forward Ify Ibekwe. Whyte had six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Ibekwe also grabbed six rebounds, handed out an assist and blocked a shot.
For the game, Arizona shot 48.6 percent (36-74) from the field, 35.0 percent (7-20) from behind the three-point arc and 66.7 percent (16-24) from the charity stripe to Utah State's 52.3 percent (34-65), 42.9 percent (6-14) and 78.4 percent (29-37), respectively. Arizona out-rebounded Utah State, 44-34, but the Cats had 23 turnovers to the Aggies' 15.
Turnovers proved to be costly in the first half with Arizona collecting 14. The Cats did win the battle of the boards, 21-14. Utah State led by as many as 16 points with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half. UA battled back and cut the lead to six, 46-40, heading into the locker room, with the help of eight second chance points and two quick three pointers.
For the Aggies, Devyn Christensen was their leading scorer with 27 points and she was one of five USU players to score in double digits. Banna Diop also chipped in with eight rebounds and five blocks.
Arizona's starting five included junior guard Shanita Arnold, Ibekwe, Lucet, junior guard Reiko Thomas and Whyte. Junior guard Brooke Jackson got the most minutes off the bench with 16. She had three points, two rebounds and one block, steal and rebound.
Seniors Ibekwe, Lucet and center Amanda Pierson have concluded their Wildcat careers with tonight's game.
Niya Butts postgame at Utah State.