Nov. 17, 2008
HILO, Haw. - The University of Arizona women’s basketball team jumped out a a double-digit first half lead and played solid defense on the way to a 62-50 victory over Hawaii and the tournament championship at the Bank of Hawaii Classic, Sunday afternoon at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
The Wildcats put their slow-starting demons behind them and jumped out strong against the Rainbow Wahine. Beatrice Bofia came off the bench early with a pair of buckets as the Cats hit 7-of-10 shots in building a 19-8 advantage.
Arizona kept its double-digit lead intact as the defense was also plenty spry. Hawaii connected on just 5-of-18 attempts (.278) over the opening 12 minutes. The three-point shot that had eluded the Cats the first day appeared against the 1-3-1 zone played by the Rainbow Wahine as both Ashley Frazier and Reiko Thomas connected from long range for a 25-13 cushion.
The lead remained in double digits the rest of the half as the Wildcats got contributions from a number of players. Thomas finished the half with nine points while Bofia and Ibekwe also connected on shots to enter the intermission with the 12-point lead still intact, 33-21.
Ibekwe scored on the opening possession of the second half, but the Wildcats appeared to let down a bit and the Rainbow Wahine responded. Sarah Ilic scored twice from the right block as Hawaii scored 10-straight points to cut the deficit to 35-31 inside the first five minutes.
Bofia was the spark plug again to help the Cats push their lead back to double digits. She hit a pair of jumpers around a field goal by Ashley Frazier that doubled a 40-34 lead up to an even dozen with just over eight minutes to play.
Once again, Hawaii refused to go away, sparked by Ilic and Briauna Linton. Each player scored a pair of field goals that sparked a 12-5 stretch, keeping the game within striking distance at 51-46. After a single free throw by Amina Njonkou, Linton hit another shot to bring the teams as close as they had been since early on at 52-48. However, they would get no closer as Arizona scored the next six points to pull away and seal the victory.
Njonkou, who was named to the all-tournament team along with Ify Ibekwe, led all players in scoring with 16 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Bofia added 14 points and grabbed a game-best 17 rebounds while blocking a pair of shots. The Wildcats finished the game shooting 46.3% (25-of-54) from the field, including 4-of-9 from distance, and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Megan Tinnin was the only player to tally double digits for Hawaii (0-3), scoring 11 points and adding 3 steals. Ilic tossed in 9 points and added 4 rebounds and 3 steals for the Rainbow Wahine.
Arizona (2-1) opens the home portion of the 2008-09 schedule next Sunday, November 23 against UC Santa Barbara in the McKale Center with tip-off scheduled for 3:00 p.m.