Feb. 28, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. - It was Senior Day on Saturday at McKale Center, but it was the Arizona freshmen who stole the headlines.
Freshman Courtney Clements scored a game-high 22 points and dished out four assists to lead Arizona to a 72-62 come-from-behind win over visiting Washington in Pac-10 play.
Clements was part of a trio of freshmen who contributed 48 of the 72 points for the Wildcats. Reiko Thomas and Malia Nahinu each came off the bench to tally 13 points as the trio combined to hit 15-of-29 (.517) from the field and 16-of-17 at the free throw line.
Following an even first 10 minutes of the game, Washington raised its level of play and took advantage of a lethargic Arizona defense to jump out to a 12-point lead. Laura McLellan hit the first of five-straight jumpers that sparked a 15-5 run over 7:36 for a 34-22 advantage.
It was at this point that head coach Niya Butts decided to give Nahinu a chance, a freshmen who had seen action in just two games and scored a single bucket. Her presence made an immediate impact as she converted a three-point play with 1:05 left that capped six-straight points by the Wildcats to cut the deficit in half.
Nahinu did not start the second half, but she was back on the floor just 2:05 into the half and was instrumental in completely turning the game around for the Wildcats. Nahinu hit bookend jump shots in a 11-2 run that put the Cats in front, 39-38.
The teams traded baskets before Arizona pushed its energy into high gear and made sure its seniors would celebrate as they walked off Olson Court for the final time.
Ashley Frazier drilled a three-pointer in the right corner that jumpstarted a 12-2 run over 2:37 to climb out in front, 53-44. Following a layup by Christina Rozier, Arizona used another 12-4 run for a 65-50 lead with 4:23 remaining.
All told, the Wildcats used an 18-minute stretch to outscore the Huskies, 43-16. The Wildcats were lethal at the free throw line, hitting 23-of-25 (.920). They were also very efficient from the field as they finished the game 22-of-53 (.415) and hit 5-of-9 (.455) from beyond the arc.
The Huskies, however, were unable to find the form that helped them build their double-digit first half lead after the break. Washington committed 14 turnovers after having just three miscues over the first 20 minutes and went from shooting 46.7 percent to 34.4 percent over each half, respectively.
McLellan led the way with 16 points, six rebounds and three steals for Washington (6-21, 2-15) while hitting 8-of-9 field goal attempts. Kristi Kingma tossed in 12 points to go along with six rebounds while Sami Whitcomb added 11 points.
Nahinu added six rebounds and a pair of blocks while hitting 4-of-6 from the field and all four of her free throw attempts in 16 minutes after playing a combined three minutes in two previous outings. Amina Njonkou had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals in her final home game while fellow seniors Beatrice Bofia and Sarah Hays each had two points.
Arizona (11-16, 4-12), which eclipsed its win total from each of the past two seasons with the triumph, wraps up the 2008-09 regular season with a trip to Northern California starting Thursday, March 5 at #2-ranked Stanford starting at 7 p.m.