Cats, Cougars Clash at Pac-10 Tourney
March 9, 2010
Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m. (PT)
Location: Galen Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: KTUC AM 1400 (Derrick Palmer, Alysiah Bond)
Tip Off Time: With the 2009-10 regular season in the rearview mirror, Arizona begins the postseason as the #8 seed in the 2010 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament and will take on #9 Washington State on Thursday, March 11 at the Galen Center on the USC campus at 6:00 p.m.
Catch the Action: Completing his third season calling Arizona women's basketball games will be Derrick Palmer. He will be joined by Alysiah Bond, the Arizona women's basketball director of operations and former collegiate point guard at The Ohio State University. Wildcat games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400. All broadcasts will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off for the pre-game show. Please visit www.arizonawildcats.com for all of your live stats, audio and video needs. Live stats will also be availabe with a link posted on the Arizona women's basketball schedule page.
Tickets Please: Arizona fans planning to attend the Pac-10 Tournament can order tickets by calling the Galen Center ticket office at 213-740-4672 or by visiting the USC website at www.usctrojans.com or at the Pac-10 website at www.pac-10.org. Those fans unable to attend will have several ways to take in the action from Los Angeles. As is every game during the season, Arizona will be broadcast locally on KTUC AM 1400 in Tucson. The game will also be streamed live on the internet on the Pac-10 website and on the Fox Sports Arizona website at www.foxsportsarizona.com. Live stats will also be available for viewing over the internet to check out box scores, play-by-play and more. Should the Wildcats advance to the semifinal round, each of the final two rounds will be televised live on Fox Sports Net with Jim Watson and Mary Murphy calling the action.
Series Notes: The Wildcats hold a 28-21 lead in the all-time series against Washington State that includes a current three-game winning streak. The teams have traded off 3-game winning streaks over the past four seasons with the Cats breaking the Cougars' three-game stretch last season in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament. Arizona captured both meetings against Washington State in the 2009-10 regular season, earning a 67-60 win in Pullman on January 7 before completing the season sweep in McKale Center on February 4, 73-66.
Scouting the Cougars: Washington State enters the postseason after splitting its final two games of the regular season last weekend, earning a 67-53 win over Oregon before falling to Oregon State two days later, 50-45. The backcourt trio of April Cook, KiKi Moore and Jazmine Perkins provide over half of the offensive production for the Cougars, averaging 13.8, 12.1 and 11.0 points per game, respectively. Perkins also leads the squad on the glass, averaging 6.0 rebounds per game, while Moore has produced a Pac-10 leading 95 steals. June Daugherty is in her third season at the Washington State helm after spending the previous 11 seasons at in-state rival Washington.
Head Coach Niya Butts:Second-year head coach Niya Butts took over the Arizona program on April 3, 2008 and has been leaving her mark everyday since. Butts came to Tucson after spending five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky. During her time with the Wildcats, she helped guide the team to a 88-72 record (.550) that included three WNIT appearances and a berth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Prior to her time in Lexington, Butts was an assistant coach at Michigan State during the 2002-03 season. That year, the Spartans made their first NCAA appearance in six seasons after posting an overall record of 17-12. She began her coaching career at Tennessee Tech, leading the Golden Eaglettes to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles in 2001 and 2002.
Butts is one of many head coaches in the NCAA ranks who played for the legendary Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee, graduating in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. A four-year letterwinner with the Lady Vols, Butts was a two-time NCAA champion (1997, 1998), three-time winner of the SEC championship (1998, 1999, 2000) and was chosen the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after her 1997 freshman campaign. She also excelled in the classroom and was three times named an Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999, 2000).
Last Time Out: Arizona completed the regular season by dropping its fifth-straight contest, the last being a 70-61 verdict at #25-ranked UCLA. Arizona jumped out to a 29-21 lead with 5:45 remaining in the first half, but the Bruins finished the half with a 16-4 scoring stretch and extended their lead to 54-42 at the 8:10 mark of the second stanza. The Wildcats kept the game close and drew within three points on two occasions late, but a pair of missed free throws, two missed field goal attempts and two UCLA offensive rebounds allowed the home side to stretch the lead back to seven and hold on for the win. Reiko Thomas led Arizona with a season-high 20 points while Davellyn Whyte added 17 points and 6 rebounds. Erica Tukiainen matched Thomas to lead UCLA with 20 points while Jasmine Dixon tallied 17 points and 9 rebounds and Markel Walker added 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Last Time Out for Washington State: The Cougars weren't able to complete their first weekend sweep of the campaign and closed out the regular season schedule with a 50-45 loss at home to Oregon State. Washington State was just 2-of-22 (.091) from three-point range and 14-of-55 from the field overall. The Cougars held a five-point lead at the half, but the Beavers hit 50 percent of their shots after the intermission to reverse the deficit for its final victory margin. Katie Madison led the way for the Cougars with 13 points and 11 rebounds while April Cook added 13 points and 4 rebounds. Julie Futch led Oregon state with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals while Kirsten Tilleman had 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Statistical Comparison: The Wildcats hold the statistical advantage in nearly every category in a head-to-head comparison with the Cougars. Arizona boasts better shooting numbers in all facets of the game, including a free throw edge of over 100 percentage points. The Arizona defense has also limited the opposition to over a 50-point better shooting percentage than Washington State. The one column that does fall for the Cougars is average rebounds. However, Arizona yields just under one more board to its opponents while the Cougars yield almost five more on average.
Postseason Particulars: Arizona is 7-8 in its 8 previous appearances in the Pac-10 Tournament dating back to its inception in 2002. The Wildcats won their only previous contest in the postseason against the Cougars, winning their initial meeting last season in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament, 79-72. The Cats have advanced to the championship game twice, losing to Stanford on each occasion. In fact, Arizona has been knocked out of the tournament by the Cardinal five times. The only teams the Wildcats have not played in the tournament are California and UCLA. This is the first time the Wildcats have been the #8 seed after being the 9th seed for 4-straight appearances.
Cougar Killer: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe has been a constant thorn in the side of the Cougars in her Arizona career. Over the past five games against Washington State, Ibekwe has averaged 17.8 points and 9.4 rebounds while hitting .552 (37-of-67) from the field. Ibekwe missed one game against the Cougars last season due to injury and is now 4-2 in games in which she has played against Washington State.
Booking Her Place: Ibekwe etched her name in the Arizona record books last season with her performance against the Cougars in the Pac-10 Tournament. She matched a pair of Arizona records in Pac-10 Tournament play, equaling the 10 field goals made by Shawntinice Polk and 19 attempts taken by Joy Hollingsworth in 2003 and 2007, respectively. She also recorded just the third double-double in team history during the tournament, joining Polk in that category.
Milennium Milestone: With a 17-foot jumper at the 2:20 mark of the first half on February 6 against Washington, junior forward Ify Ibekwe became the 16th player in Arizona history to record 1,000 career points. She currently sits in 14th place with 1,107 points and would move into 13th position ahead of Yolanda Turner if she can score 38 points in two Pac-10 Tournament games. The last player to join the 1,000-point club was Ashley Whisonant, who reached that career milestone against Oregon State in the semfinal round of the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament.
Selective Company: Ibekwe became the 9th active player in the Pac-10 and 7th player this season to achieve 1,000 points for her career with her 17-point performance against Washington. Kayla Pedersen of Stanford, Danielle Orsillo of Arizona State, Sami Whitcomb of Washington, Talisa Rhea of Oregon State and both Taylor Lilley and Micaela Cocks from Oregon have also joined the 1,000-point club during the 2009-10 campaign after Alexis Gray-Lawson of California and Jayne Appel were holdovers from the previous season.
Record in Reach: In a season when Ibekwe achieved the 1,000-point milestone, she is also closing in on a number of Arizona rebounding records. With 329 rebounds and another game to play, Ibekwe could break the single-season rebounding record of 339 held by Shawtinice Polk from the 2003-04 season. Ibekwe tallied 336 boards last season, but missed two games due to injury to fall just short of a new benchmark. With a current total of 857 for her career, Ibekwe is 3rd all-time for career rebounds with an aim of reaching the school's career mark of 921 held by Adia Barnes early next season.
Double Down: WIth 1,000 career rebounds within her grasp, Ibekwe would not only become the first Arizona player to reach that milestone, she would also join an elite group of players in Pac-10 history. Ten players in league history have grabbed 1,000 boards for their career, each of whom also tallied at least 1,000 points for their career. Ibekwe would become the 11th player to accomplish that feat in her career at some point during the 2010-11 campaign.
Hometown Heroes: One of two Wildcats who call the Los Angeles area home, Reiko Thomas has enjoyed returning to her native Southern California as a Wildcat. In her last three games in Los Angeles County, Thomas has averaged 12.0 points and 5.3 rebounds while connecting on all 11 of her free throw attempts. Thomas had her best game of the season on Saturday at UCLA, scoring a season-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting while hitting all six of her free throws and both of her three-point attempts in 38 minutes of play.
Free Play: Points at the free throw line are an added bonus to a team's total and Reiko Thomas has been one of the best in Arizona history at converting at the charity stripe. The Pac-10 leader in free throw percentage at .899, Thomas is the Arizona career leader in free throw percentage at .851. Kirsten Smith was the previous record holder at .779, making Thomas the first player in program history to own a career percentage over .800. Her season total would also be a new program benchmark, but she is a handful attempts short of the three-attempt per game minimum standard.
Action Jackson: A shift to the bench is not always a bad thing as Brooke Jackson has demonstrated since exiting the starting lineup on February 4 against Washington State. Jackson had been mired in a 12-for-55 (.218) slump from three-point range after making 15-of-30 (.500) over the first seven games of her Arizona career. Since then, however, she has made 13-of-32 (.406) from beyond the arc, including a 4-for-5 performance against Washington. Despite seeing fewer minutes per game, Jackson is still averaging 7.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a reserve.
Scoring Punch: Junior forward Soana Lucet has been one of the most consistent scoring threats for the Wildcats this season. She is third on the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game as she has tallied in double figures in 18 games and scored at least 8 points in all but three games. She also has four 20-point games to her credit, including a season-high 28 point performance in the record-breaking victory over Oregon on January 16.
Power Outage: The 60-point mark has been a bit of a benchmark for the team's success this season. Arizona is winless in seven games when scoring 59 points or less. If Arizona can score at least 60 points, it has posted a record of 13-6.
Doing It With Defense: For the 21st time this season and 8th time in a 9-game span, Arizona limited the opposition to a field goal percentage under 40 percent after allowing UCLA to shoot just 38.7 percent on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats accomplished that feat in all four of its February wins after setting that standard in each of the first six games of the campaign. Arizona has posted a 12-9 mark this season when holding the opposing team under the 40 percent mark.
Bright Future: While Arizona continues its quest to rejoin the NCAA's elite company, the future looks bright for the Wildcats as one of its future members earned national recognition. Candice Warthen, a senior guard at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, was named the ESPN RISE girls basketball player of the week for the Southeast region after tallying a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a 68-27 win over Evans. Rated the #20 point guard in the 2010 class by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Warthen also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark this season and averaged 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 steals and 4.0 assists for the 24-5 Screaming Devils. The Screaming Devils won their opening game in the GHSA Class A State Tournament, a 62-36 triumph over Bacon County, before falling to Calvary Day in a 2nd round game last Wednesday evening.
Conference Standouts: Arizona continues to have several players ranking among the league's Top 10 in a number of categories. Ify Ibekwe leads the Pac-10 in rebounds at 11.3 per contest while Reiko Thomas is the top free throw shooter at 89.9 percent. Davellyn Whyte is 5th in the league in scoring at 16.0 per game, 3rd in 3-point field goals made with 2.2 per contest and 6th in 3-point field goal percentage at .361. Brooke Jackson is also among the top three-point shooters with 1.4 per game, good for a share of 10th place, while also claiming 10th in 3-point field goal percentage at .339. Ibekwe is also 4th in steals with 2.2 per game, 7th in blocked shots with a 1.2 average and 10th in field goal percentage at .471. As a team, the Wildcats are 4th field goal percentage (.423), 3rd in field goal percentage defense (.378), and 5th in scoring (66.0), free throw percentage (.684) and 3-point field goals per game (5.0).National Notables: Arizona is among the top 100 in the NCAA in field goal percentage (62nd, .423), personal fouls per game (66th, 15.7) and field goal percentage defense (83rd, .378). On the individual front, Ify Ibekwe is 6th in the nation in rebounding at 11.3 per contest, 16th in double-doubles with 16 and 78th in field goal percentage at .471. Davellyn Whyte is 84th in 3-point field goals per game at 2.2, 99th in scoring at 16.0 per game and 81st in 3-point field goal percentage at .361. Reiko Thomas has also climbed into the rankings at the charity stripe, ranking 6th in the NCAA in free throws at 89.9 percent.
Nothing Ify About Ibekwe: Junior forward Ify Ibekwe had one of the most impressive seasons in 2008-09 in recent Arizona history. She led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7), rebounds (11.6), field goals (173), free throws (109), blocked shots (52) and steals (60) while earning 1st-team all-Pac-10 and Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition. She was the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double and finished tied for 6th nationally in rebounds. This season, she leads the Wildcats in rebounds, free throws, blocked shots, steals and assists.
Glass Eater: After posting three of the top four single-game rebounding totals in Arizona history last season, Ibekwe improved upon her own personal best by grabbing 22 rebounds in the season-opening win over Iona. Last season, she registered the first known 20-20 game in Arizona history with 26 points and 20 rebounds on December 29, 2008 in a win at Boise State, then matched that total on the boards against in-state rival Arizona State in McKale Center on February 21, 2009. Already the school record holder for single-season rebounding average, she holds second place all alone, sitting five rebounds behind school-record holder Jill Longanecker, who nabbed 25 rebounds against West Texas State on January 12, 1979.
Double Trouble: With her 14-point, 11-rebound performance against California on February 25, Ibekwe moved into second place in the Arizona record books, now owning 38 career double-doubles after accomplishing the feat in 16-of-28 games this season. The 16 she had last season was the second-highest single-season total in school history behind the 21 tallied by Shawntinice Polk during the 2002-03 season. She passed Adia Barnes for the second spot while Polk holds the career mark at 46, a number Ibekwe would more than likely pass early on next season.
Agent Zero: Taking a cue from former Wildcat Gilbert Arenas by wearing #0, freshman guard Davellyn Whyte has showed the all-around skills that made her the first prep player signed by head coach Niya Butts. The 2009 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year was named the Most Valuable Player of the season-opening Iona College Tip-Off Tournament. Whyte shot almost 52 percent from the field while hitting 7-of-16 three-point attempts (.438) in wins over Iona and Miami (Ohio). Whyte currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 16.0 points per game while shooting .361 from three-point range, .429 from the field and grabbing 4.1 rebounds per contest. She has stepped up her game another notch during Pac-10 play, averaging 17.2 points to go along with 3.8 rebounds while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 80.6 percent from the free throw line.
Opening Act: Few players have had a bigger impact in their first-ever game as freshmen than Whyte did for the Wildcats against Iona. Over the past 10 seasons, only one player has scored more points in their Arizona debut. Shawntinice Polk bested Whyte by two points, registering 29 points in her first-ever Wildcat game on November 22, 2002 against LSU. It was also the highest point total by any Pac-10 player on the opening weekend of play.
Rewriting History: The Wildcats lone freshman began flirting with history early on in her debut season before finally making it as she tallied a school-record 39 points against Oregon on January 16. She finished 12-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range, and connected on 10-of-12 free throws. She bested the previous single-game scoring record of 35 points held by three different players. At the time, it was the most points scored by a Pac-10 player in 2009-10 and is still the 2nd-highest total of the season.
Well Seasoned: As Whyte adds her name to list after list in the Arizona record books, another milestone that is within her grasp is the single-season freshman scoring record. Whyte currently has 465 points on the season, moving past Adia Barnes for the runner-up spot with her final bucket last Saturday at UCLA. Shawntinice Polk holds the personal mark with 538 points.