Cats Hold Off Rebels, 65-59

Nov. 23, 2009

TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona used a 19-2 second half run and held off a late charge to earn a 65-59 win over visiting Ole Miss, Monday afternoon in McKale Center.

The Wildcats shook off the doldrums of a sloppy loss at San Diego State on Saturday evening and picked up their first win against a SEC opponent since capturing a 70-49 triumph over Georgia on November 30, 2002.

The two teams played a very even first half with the defenses ruling the day. Neither team shot above 33 percent and they combined to commit 14 turnovers. The Rebels took a one-point lead into intermission when LaKendra Phillips hit a 12-foot jumper with just over a second to play.

Following an early basket by Mississippi's Elizabeth Robertson to start the second half, Arizona turned up its intensity and put together the second half run that eventually led to the win.

Davellyn Whyte hit a three-pointer to ignite the spurt, then Brooke Jackson hit two more from distance while Soana Lucet converted three lay-ups, two of them set up by Jackson. Meanwhile, Ole Miss committed six turnovers over the 7:12 stretch that saw the Cats build a 47-33 lead.

The Rebels would quickly respond with a 11-0 run of their own sparked by Robertson. She hit back-to-back three-pointers, the second of which turned into a four-point play, helping cut the lead down to 49-44.

The Cats stretched the lead back to eight, but the Rebels continued to battle back and closed to within a point on three occasions. Shantell Black converted the final bucket for the Rebels with 1:15 to play to leave Arizona leading by just a point, 60-59.

After missing a pair of short attempts, Ify Ibekwe went to the line and hit 1-of-2 free throws to double the lead. Whitney Hameth missed an open three-pointer in the left corner, then Bianca Thomas was off the mark with 15 seconds left. Whyte went to the line and hit a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to make it a two possession game and seal the win for the Cats. Jackson hit two more late free throws to end the scoring.

Arizona held a 18-10 edge in points in the paint and earned a 45-41 edge on the boards. After shooting just 9-of-28 (.321) in the first half, the Cats were an efficient 13-of-25 (.520) after the break while Ole Miss hit on only 22-of-69 (.319) for the game, including a 6-of-26 mark from beyond the arc.

Jackson led all scorers with 20 points, including a trio of three-pointers, and also chipped in with five steals and four assists while Lucet tossed in 15 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Ibekwe converted her fourth-straight double-double with 10 points and 16 reboudns while also adding three assists and three blocked shots.

Whyte tallied 11 points and 7 rebounds. Bianca Thomas led Ole Miss (3-1) with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists while Robertson tallied 12 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out.

Arizona (3-1) is back on the road this Friday, November 27 for a second-straight trip to San Diego, this time battling the University of San Diego at 7:00 p.m.

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