Feb. 26, 2011
TUCSON - University of Arizona Wildcat women's basketball picked up another Pac-10 win Saturday with an 84-74 victory over the visiting USC Trojans. The Wildcats move to 17-10 overall and 8-8 in Pac-10 play. USC falls to 16-11 overall and 8-8 in Pac-10 play.
Arizona women's basketball picked up a win over the Women of Troy for the first time since Feb. 15, 2009 (74-61, Galen Center) and the first time at McKale Center since Feb. 12, 2005 (75-64).
"I'm excited that we got the win today," head coach Niya Butts said. "It was a tough game against a tough team but we came out ready to play. Soana (Lucet) did a great job today, and even though she had a little foul trouble, Ify (Ibekwe) was great for us when she was on the court."
"As happy as we are with this result, we are not going to forget that we aren't done yet," Butts said. "We are thankful for our fans coming out today and supporting us, like they have all season. Now we are going to hit the road for our last two games against the Oregon schools. This win will definitely give us momentum for the postseason but right now we have to take care of Oregon State and Oregon."
Sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte was Arizona's leading scorer with 19 points, including 15-of-18 from the free throw line. Whyte was one of five Wildcats to score in double figures with 17 points from senior forward Ify Ibekwe, 13 points from senior forward Soana Lucet and 10 points each from junior guard Shanita Arnold and freshman guard Candice Warthen.
Lucet led the team in rebounds with eight while Ibekwe chipped in with seven. Arnold and Whyte handed out five and four assists, respectively, and Ibekwe grabbed two steals.
"Even though I was on the bench, I was really excited for my team," Ibekwe said. "We were playing for each other on the court and we were cheering for them on the bench. I knew we were going to get that win. It was a really good team win. I don't really realize it's my senior night because we have two more games to go, and then the Pac-10s. Right now our focus is on Oregon State and we will do what we have to do. At practice, we have to focus on what Coach says and that's rebounding. We are already a good offensive team, we just need to rebound and box out because it is defense that wins games."
Arizona won the rebounding battle, 43-40, after trailing 22-12 at half time. For the game, the Wildcats shot 41.0 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three-point range and 76.3 percent from the free throw line compared to USC's 40.0 percent, 41.7 percent and 73.9 percent, respectively.
For the Women of Troy, Briana Gilbreath was their leading scorer with 21 points and she was one for four Trojans to score in double digits. She also chipped in with 10 rebounds for the double-double.
Arizona's starting five was Arnold, Ibekwe, Lucet, junior guard Reiko Thomas and Whyte. Senior center Amanda Pierson got the most minutes off the bench with 23. She scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.
"Anytime we play USC there is a see-saw effect," Butts said. "They will balance us with a run. They have a lot of good players and good shooters. Our bench really gave us some good minutes today. Amanda Pierson came off the bench and really did a lot for us on defense and Candice Warthen also came off and gave us some quality minutes."
In Saturday's pregame ceremonies, Ibekwe, Lucet, Pierson and Tasha Dickey were recognized for their final home game at McKale Center.
The Wildcats will close out the Pac-10 regular season with a road swing to play at Oregon State on March 3 and at Oregon on March 5.
Niya Butts postgame USC.