March 6, 2011
TUCSON - Earning the No. 4 seed, the University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team will play the ninth-seeded Oregon Ducks on Wed., March 9, in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament, it was announced by the league office on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m. MT at Los Angeles' Galen Center.
"We're obviously very excited to start the Pac-10 Tournament in a few days," head coach Niya Butts said. "I think we match up very well with Oregon and we just played them on Saturday, so from a preparation standpoint that works to our advantage. We're taking it one game at a time and we want to continue to play good basketball."
Arizona and the USC Trojans tied for fourth in the Pac-10 standings but the Wildcats earned the fourth seed by virtue of the tie breaker rule. The Wildcats' 10-8 conference record is their best since the 2004-05 campaign and their 19 wins overall are the most since that same season. The 2010-11 season marks the highest finish in the Pac-10 for Arizona since tying for the Pac-10 regular-season crown in 2004.
The Wildcats have won five-straight games, including four-straight Pac-10 road wins, and six of their last seven contests. Under third-year head coach Niya Butts, the Wildcats have improved from 12 overall wins and four Pac-10 victories in 2008-09, to 14 overall wins and six Pac-10 wins in 2009-10, to sitting at 19-10 overall and 10-8 in league play currently.
For the first time since the 2003-04 season, the Wildcats were 11-2 to start the 2010-11 season. For the first time since the 2004-05 season, Arizona opened the 2010-11 conference slate with two-straight victories. With this season's wins at Washington State (78-61, 2/17) and Washington (74-66, 2/19), Arizona won its first Pac-10 road sweep since the 2004-05 season when the Wildcats also won games at Washington and Washington State. With this weekend's wins at Oregon State and Oregon, Arizona picked up two conference road sweeps in a season for the first time since the 2003-04 slate when the Wildcats won all four games on the road at Oregon and Washington.
The 2010-11 Pac-10 opening win over Oregon marked the first victory in a Pac-10 opener since the 2004-05 slate. Against the Ducks on Dec. 31, 2010, Arizona made a school record 46 field goals, replacing the previous record of 45 against Western New Mexico on Dec. 19, 1986. More history making in the Oregon game included the highest shooting percentage for a Pac-10 game in Arizona history, 64.8 percent (46-71). It replaces the previous mark of 64.3 percent (36-56) against California on Dec. 27, 2002.
Arizona has three players averaging in double figures: senior forward Ify Ibekwe (16.1), sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte (15.2) and senior forward Soana Lucet (11.3). Ibekwe leads Arizona and the Pac-10 at the glass with 10.0 rebounds per game and is the only Pac-10 player to average a double-double on the season. Ibekwe also leads the conference in scoring (16.1), three-point field goal percentage (28-59-.475) and defensive rebounds (7.2) while junior guard Shanita Arnold dishes out 5.0 assists per game to lead the Pac-10.
The Wildcats rank in the top three in the Pac-10 in the following statistical categories: scoring offense (72.6), scoring margin (+ 4.6), field goal percentage (775-1797-.431) and assists (15.0).
The Pacific Life Pac-10 Basketball Tournament enters its 10th season with the women's portion splitting its time between Galen Center and Staples Center, the first time in the history of the event the women's teams will have the opportunity to play in an NBA/WNBA venue, joining the men's event for the semifinal and championship games.
With a new bracket this season, the first-round games tip off at Galen Center with No. 3 Arizona State and No. 10 Oregon State on Wed., March 9 at 12 p.m. PT, followed by No. 4 Arizona and No. 9 Oregon at 2:15 p.m. PT; No. 5 USC vs. No. 8 Washington State at 5 p.m. PT; and No. 6 California taking on No. 7 Washington at 7:15 p.m. PT.
The winners of the ASU/OSU and Cal/UW matchups play at 3 p.m. PT on Thurs., March 10 to kick off quarterfinal action, while the winners of the Arizona/Oregon and USC/WSU games play at 5:15 p.m. PT.
The tournament moves over to Staples Center where top-seeded Stanford and second-seeded UCLA will take on the quarterfinal winners at 12 p.m. PT and 2:30 p.m. PT, respectively, on Fri., March 11. The championship game is slated for Sat., March 12, at 11:30 a.m. PT. Both the semifinal and title games will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.
Tickets for the four-day event are still available for purchase by visiting www.pac-10.org/hoopstix. For complete details, a live video stream and live stats from the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament, visit pac-10.org.