Cats Hold Off Gauchos, 54-47

Nov. 23, 2008

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Sophomore forward Ify Ibekwe tallied her second double-double of the season to lift Arizona to a 54-47 win over visiting UC Santa Barbara, Sunday afternoon in the home opener for the Wildcats.

Ibekwe tallied 15 points and grabbed a career-best 19 rebounds, the second time she has pulled down a personal best in four games this season. The rebound total was also the second-highest in program history, matching Shawntinice Polk and Kim Conway one board short of 20.

The Wildcats trailed ever so briefly in the game, falling behind 2-1 after Jenna Green hit a short jumper in the paint 3:15 into the contest. Arizona scored the next nine points with Ibekwe adding the last four after three of her teammates had found the mark.

Neither team was setting the nets on fire, but the Gauchos especially struggled from the field. They started the game making just 3-of-21 shots (.143) while the Wildcats built a 16-6 lead with 3:47 left before the break.

The Cats pushed the gap to 23-10 at the half and stretched that margin to as much as 19 early in the second half. Whitney Warren had trimmed the Arizona lead to 27-17, but the Cats scored the next nine points, capped off by a Ashley Frazier three-pointer, to lead 36-17 with 14:47 remaining.

Leading scorer Lauren Pedersen, who made just 4-of-18 shots for the game, hit back-to-back shots to tally five points to quickly quell the Arizona run and give the Gauchos some life. The visitors also began working the ball inside and whittled the lead down to seven at the 5:27 mark.

Beatrice Bofia came off the bench to give the Cats a needed spark in the paint, playing tough defense and hitting a turn-around jumper that helped push the lead back to 48-37 with 3:25 left. Though the Gauchos got as close as five in the last minute of the game, Frazier put the game on ice with two free throws to ensure the team's best start since the 2004-05 season.

Freshman guard Reiko Thomas scored 11 points for the Wildcats while Frazier chipped in with nine points and four assists. The Wildcats committed a season-low 13 turnovers and hit 20-of-54 shots from the field.

Pederson shared game-high scoring honors with Ibekwe by tallying 15 points and 7 rebounds for UC Santa Barbara (1-2). Ashlee Brown chipped in with 10 points and 5 rebounds.

Arizona (3-1) hosts #7-ranked Texas A&M in a Southwest showdown this Tuesday, November 25 with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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