Jan. 20, 2011
TUCSON - University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball won its eighth home game of the season and broke a three-game skid with a 61-58 victory over the Washington Huskies Thursday night at McKale Center. Arizona improves to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies fall to 7-9 overall and 2-5 in Pac-10 play.
"This certainly was a tough battle but it was a game we needed to win," head coach Niya Butts said. "I'm very proud of our response, especially on defense. Warthen did an awesome job on defense and our posts did a great job of taking charges late in the game. We had a bit of a drought on offense but our defense and rebounding really helped us get the win. We forced Washington to 23 turnovers and that was huge. We just knew we had to stay with it, stay focused, and stay disciplined."
For the third-straight game, sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte was Arizona's leading scorer. She picked up 15 points while dishing out four assists against the Huskies. Freshman guard Candice Warthen and senior forward Ify Ibekwe each chipped in with 10 points. Senior forward Soana Lucet and Ibekwe led at the glass with five boards each.
"We knew going into this game that this was a team that has been fighting hard for the past couple weeks," Whyte said. "We knew they were going to be a challenge. This definitely gives us momentum going into the game against Washington State."
"Our offense was there, we just weren't hitting our shots," Whyte said. "They were good but they weren't connecting. Once the ball fell, we were good. Coach tells us that the game starts with the defense. We got the stops we needed to make and were able to bounce back."
Butts was quick to credit the defensive play of Lucet, Warthen and junior forward Taylor Dalrymple. Lucet and Dalrymple drew key offensive fouls from the UW players. As a squad, Washington committed 21 fouls to Arizona's 12. The Wildcats also forced 23 turnovers out of the Huskies, compared to the Wildcats' 16.
"Soana's tough," Butts said. "She fights hard and is committed to do what she needs to do to win. Candice gave them a lot of problems on offense, made it hard for them to get set."
For Washington, Regina Rogers was the leading scorer with 14 points. Marjorie Heard also pitched in with 10 points while three Washington players picked up six rebounds each. Both teams were evenly matched with nine steals and three blocked shots each.
Junior guard Shanita Arnold, freshman forward Erica Barnes, Lucet, Warthen and Whyte got the start for the Wildcats on Thursday. Warthen got the start for the second-straight game and Barnes got her second start of the season, last getting the nod at New Mexico on Dec. 7. Barnes was 3-of-3 from the field and made her only attempted free throw, good for seven points, two rebounds and a blocked shot.
"We were on a losing streak and we knew we had to pick it up," Warthen said. "We couldn't lose tonight. It just comes back to defense and rebounds for us. I just have to play my role. I have to do what I have to do out there."
Arizona will return to action on Sat., Jan. 22 with a 2 p.m. contest against Washington State at McKale Center.
Niya Butts postgame Washington.