March 9, 2011
LOS ANGELES - With a one-point win over the No. 9 seed Oregon Ducks, the No. 4 seed University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball team advanced to the second round of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament with a narrow 90-89 victory on Wednesday. The Wildcats move to 20-10 overall on the season - the first time to 20 wins since the 2004-05 slate. Arizona is now 9-9 in Pac-10 Tournament games.
"It's March and that kind of showed for us today," head coach Niya Butts said. "It was a tale of two halves for us today. The first half was solid for us but we weren't as aggressive at the boards. I thought we'd come out for the second half and tighten that up but it got worse. We also didn't guard the three well and I think we gave up eight threes. So in short I'm very happy to come away with this win."
Senior Soana Lucet made what turned out to be the game-winning fast break lay-up with 14 seconds to play in the game. She ended the day with 23 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte also had 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds and seven steals. Senior forward Ify Ibekwe collected her 13th double-double of the season with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Junior guard Shanita Arnold handed out four assists.
"They are a running team and they everyone to do the same thing," Whyte said. "It's a fast-paced game and when you get to the locker room after, you take a deep breath and you're glad that it's over."
For the game, Arizona got out rebounded, 54-42, by the Ducks but committed six less turnovers. The Cats shot 45.5 percent from the field (35-77), 37.5 percent from three-point range (6-16) and 56.0 percent from the free throw line (14-25) to Oregon's 43.4 percent (36-83), 34.6 percent (9-26) and 57.1 percent (8-14), respectively.
At the half, Arizona went to the locker room with a 51-36 lead over Oregon. The Cats dropped the battle at the boards, 28-25, but had three fewer turnovers than the Ducks. What started out as a slow half for the Cats turned around quickly with a series of runs in favor of Arizona.
For Oregon, Ariel Thomas was their leading scorer with 29 points. Amanda Johnson also chipped in with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Danielle Love led the Ducks at the glass with 13 boards.
For Arizona, the starting five included Arnold, Ibekwe, Lucet, junior guard Reiko Thomas and Whyte. Freshman Candice Warthen got the most minutes of the bench with 19. She scored seven points and handed out three assists.
The Wildcats will face No. 5 seed USC on Thurs., March 10 at 5:15 p.m. PT/6:15 p.m. MT, at the Galen Center.
Niya Butts postgame Oregon.