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Wildcats Hold Off New Mexico State, 71-59
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/19/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 19, 2010

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TUCSON - The University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team advanced to 7-2 on the season with a 71-59 win over the New Mexico State Aggies at McKale Center on Sunday. The Aggies fell to 6-5 on the season.

"It wasn't pretty, but it was a win," head coach Niya Butts said. "For our team to grind it out was good to see but it was a hard win. We weren't looking as good as usual but it's understandable. We have to take care of the ball better and I'm sure we'll have this rectified by Tuesday."

"Any time we have a break, it's good for us, but not playing gets us off a little bit on our timing," Butts said. "Sometimes the only medicine for basketball is playing an actual game. We didn't shoot very well today but the second half was better. I think we took too many threes in the first half but we didn't have our legs, so they wouldn't fall. We have to do better in the transition, and keep up the tempo for the entire forty minutes."

Senior Soana Lucet, with 15 points, was Arizona's leading scorer for the second time this season. She was one of four Wildcats to score in double digits: sophomore Davellyn Whyte (14), freshman Erica Barnes (12) and junior Brooke Jackson (12).

For the fourth time this season, senior Ify Ibekwe dominated the glass with 14 rebounds, including nine defensively. She also pitched in with eight points. Arizona out-rebounded New Mexico State, 49-31, with 31 boards coming on defense. Junior Shanita Arnold dished out seven assists and Lucet blocked three shots.

"I haven't played for longer than the rest of the team so I anticipated a bit of a slow start, but we came out and did what we had to do," Ibekwe said. "We took the shots we usually take but today they just weren't falling. We have an advantage with having another home game on Tuesday, and we'll pick it back up before we go out. We have to pick up on what we didn't do as well and just make it work."

Poor shooting led to a low-scoring first half and it ended 32-25 in favor of the Wildcats. Arizona shot 36.7 percent from the field (11-30) barely edging out New Mexico State's 31.3 percent (10-32). Barnes dominated in the first half, scoring 10 points with 5-of-6 from the field and grabbing two rebounds. Jackson pitched in with four points in the first half, a result of perfect shooting at the free throw line.

Both teams picked it up on the shooting in the second half, Arizona with 48.1 percent and New Mexico State with 37.9 percent. The Wildcats earned their biggest lead of the game - 12 points - with a layup from Ibekwe at the 11:23 mark. The Aggies cut the Arizona lead to four points with two field goals and two made free throws with five minutes to play.

Arizona was back to its usual starting line-up on Sunday with Arnold, Ibekwe, Jackson, Lucet and Whyte getting the start. Ibekwe was back in action after missing the win at New Mexico while recovering from illness. Freshman Candice Warthen logged the most minutes off the bench with 18. She chipped in with six points and two rebounds.

For the Aggies, Jasmine Lowe was their leading scorer with 14 points. Jasmine Rutledge led at the glass with six rebounds. New Mexico State had three players score in double digits.

The Wildcats will return to McKale Center on Tues., Dec. 21 for a 1 p.m. contest against North Texas. For tickets to the women's basketball games, call 800-452-2287.

Niya Butts postgame New Mexico State.

Ify Ibekwe postgame New Mexico State.

Brooke Jackson postgame New Mexico State.

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