Dec. 14, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. - Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe tallied 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds to lead Arizona to a 56-47 win over visiting Long Beach State, Sunday afternoon in the McKale Center.
Ibekwe, who tallied her fifth double-double in nine games this season, also added four assists, three blocked shots and three steals to help the Wildcats move back above the .500 mark (5-4) for the first time since a 3-1 start evaporated into a three-game losing skid.
The game was not a memorable one for either head coach as the teams combined to miss 78 shots and commit 28 turnovers. The Wildcats did, however, take advantage of their free throw shooting, connecting on 21-of-26 attempts while limiting the 49ers to just 4-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Despite shooting a chilly 21.2 percent (7-of-33) in the first half, the Wildcats only trailed by a point as they held the 49ers to only eight field goals and a 27.6 percent shooting clip. Ibekwe came out of the break strong, converting a pair of short jumpers inside the first four minutes. The early offense made sure the Wildcats kept pace as the teams went back and forth through most of the second half.
The last of 10 lead changes saw the Wildcats able to keep enough cushion to keep the 49ers at bay. Freshman guard Reiko Thomas converted a conventional three-point play at the 6:18 mark that pushed the Cats in front, 42-40. That trey sparked a 7-0 run, capped off by two Thomas free throws, that proved the difference.
Though Long Beach countered with back-to-back buckets to cut the gap to two with 2:06 to play, Ashley Frazier drilled a jumper as the shot clock expired and 1:32 on the clock that provided the final dagger. Arizona converted 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to close the deal.
Thomas led all scorers with a career-best 23 points, converted 11-of-12 free throws and 2-of-3 from three-point range. Amina Njonkou and Courtney Clements each added five points and six boards for the Wildcats.
Adelle Watson was the only player in double figures for Long Beach State (2-7), hitting 6-of-13 shots to finish with 13 points. Courtney Jacob added 8 points while Lauren Sims had 7 points.
Arizona concludes its three-game homestand on Wednesday, December 17 against UC Riverside with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.