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Lady Cats may have momentum

Citizen Staff Writer
The Bounce



Without question, the Arizona women’s basketball team has played better basketball down the stretch. Check the scores.

The Wildcats beat Washington 72-62 at home without Ify Ibekwe, their leading scorer and rebounder. Then they went on the road and played No. 2 Stanford and No. 9 California tough before losing, 70-67 and 51-48, respectively.

Now Arizona (11-18) heads to the Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center in Los Angeles as the No. 9 seed. It will face No. 8 Washington State (11-18) at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday. The winner plays No. 1 Stanford on Friday.

“The last two games were disappointing, but it also gave us a lot of confidence because we played against two of the top teams in the country,” said Arizona coach Niya Butts. “Certainly, that gives you momentum heading into the Pac-10 Tournament.”

Arizona lost twice to WSU in the regular season. The Wildcats dropped a 63-56 decision to WSU at McKale Center on Feb. 26.

“Getting rebounds and hopefully holding our opponent to around 56 is going to be key,” Butts said. “If we can do that, it gives us an excellent opportunity to win. But we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball as well as attacking the basket. Getting to the foul line is going to be key for us.”

Ibekwe, who also missed the WSU game at McKale Center, had double figures in points and rebounds in her return at Stanford and California last week. Ibekwe played all 40 minutes against Cal to erase any questions about her left knee.

“She means so much to this team,” Butts said. “It helps us a great deal when she’s on the floor. She has put the team on her back several times. She’s the only player in the Pac-10 to average a double-double.”


Thursday: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Washington, 6 p.m.; No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 9 UA., 8:15 p.m. (1400 AM)

Friday: No. 3 ASU vs. No. 6 USC, 11 a.m.; No. 2 Cal vs. Oregon/Wash., 1:15 p.m.; No. 1 Stanford vs. UA/WSU, 5 p.m.; No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Oregon State, 7:15 p.m.

Beast of a serve



Be careful of the beast. It might wake up any time.

“That’s what they call my serve. It’s the nickname my teammates gave me,” said Arizona junior Pat Metham on Wednesday of his sweeping, almost unreturnable serve.

The beast awakened against Memphis, with New Zealander Metham teaming with Francois VanderMerwe in doubles play. The two came from three one-point deficits to win 8-6 and stake the No. 19-ranked Wildcats to a 7-0 victory.

The win extended Arizona’s victory streak to 10 games. The Cats are 12-1 for the year.

“We had to work for it,” said UA head coach Tad Berkowitz. “It was not an easy shutout.”

No. 1 singles player Andres Arango won 7-6, 7-5 against Jorge Vasqez. No. 2 singles Andres Carrasco won 6-2, 6-2 and other singles victories went to No. 3 Ravid Hazi (6-3, 6-4), No. 5 Jason Zafiros (6-4, 6-3), No. 6 Ola Bakker (6-3, 4-6, 10-8) and No. 4 Metham.

Zafiros upped his season record to 12-0.

The only two breaks of Metham’s serve – in doubles and singles – came after he took a 6-3 lead against Charlie Ramsey in his singles duel. Metham lost the second set 6-2, then won in a 10-8 tiebreaker. It was the second straight match in which he had to rally to win.

Not the most excitable guy on the court, his serve speaks plenty.

“He’s not vocal and fiery like the others,” said Berkowitz. “He’s a laid-back Kiwi.”

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