March 10, 2011
LOS ANGELES - University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball advanced to the semifinals of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament with a 72-61 win over the USC Trojans at the Galen Center on Thursday. The Wildcats move to 21-10 overall on the season and the Women of Troy fall to 19-12 overall. UA is now 10-9 in Pac-10 Tournament games.
"The stat sheet doesn't look pretty in terms of our rebounding but we won," head coach Niya Butts said. "It was a great win for our girls and I'm very proud of our team. We are an NCAA Tournament team. We've won eight of our last nine games. It was a great game by USC but at the end of the day, our girls got stops when we needed to. We did a really good job pushing the ball in transition. When we get that kind of effort, we're going to be okay."
For the second-straight game, Arizona's leading scorer was sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte with 24 points - matching her season best from the New Mexico game in December. She was 9-of-14 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range. She matched her season best three pointers, also from the New Mexico game. Whyte finished her stat line with six rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Whyte was one of three Wildcats to score in double digits with 13 points from senior forward Ify Ibekwe and 20 points from senior forward Soana Lucet. Ibekwe led the Cats at the glass with 11 boards and collected her 14th double-double of the season. Lucet also grabbed four steals for the Wildcats' defensive efforts.
"It's really a credit to my teammates," Lucet said about her improving offense. "I'm getting space on the floor and they're making good passes to me. Ify (Ibekwe) gets double covered a lot and that frees me up. I know my time is running out (as a senior) and that's definitely motivating. I'm trying to make the best of it."
For the game, the Wildcats shot 49.1 percent from the field (26-53), 53.8 percent from behind the arc (7-13) and 65.0 percent from the free throw line (13-20) to USC's 30.8 percent (24-78), 25.0 percent (3-12) and 66.7 percent (10-15), respectively. UA opened the second half with six three pointers in a matter of minutes and a 28-14 run in their favor. USC out-rebounded Arizona, 46-36.
At the half, Arizona held a slight edge over the Trojans, 29-28. Both teams gave up 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and USC out-rebounded the Cats, 17-14. In the first half, the score was tied nine times and the Wildcats picked up six fast-break points.
For the Women of Troy, Briana Gilbreath was their leading scorer with 16 points. Christina Marinacci also chipped in with five points and 13 rebounds. USC had three players score in double digits.
Arizona's starting five consisted of junior guard Shanita Arnold, Ibekwe, Lucet, junior guard Reiko Thomas and Whyte. Junior guard Brooke Jackson got the most minutes off the bench with 11. She scored five points, grabbed one rebound and blocked a shot.
Arizona will face the No. 1 seed Stanford Cardinal on Fri., March 11, at 12 p.m. PT/1 p.m. MT, at the Staples Center. The semifinal game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net. Live stats are available at pac-10.org.