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Arizona women advance; ‘We are an NCAA Tournament team’

Arizona celebrates during the game against USC at the Galen Center.
Photo by Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona women’s basketball team, with 21 victories and a berth in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals, will be looking for a little gravy Friday.

The Wildcats take on second-ranked Stanford at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Arizona got there by dispatching USC 72-61 Thursday behind 24 points from sophomore guard Davellyn Whyte, and coach Niya Butts doesn’t think the road ends against the mighty Cardinal.

“It was a great win for our girls and I’m very proud of our team,” Butts said in a press release. “We are an NCAA Tournament team. We’ve won eight of our last nine games.”

The Wildcats (21-10) haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

Against USC, senior forward Soana Lucet had 20 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Senior forward Ify Ibekwe had her usual double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Arizona was out-rebounded by 10 but overcame that by shooting 49.1 percent from the field.

“It was a great game by USC but at the end of the day, our girls got stops when we needed to,” said Butts, in her third season at Arizona. “We did a really good job pushing the ball in transition. When we get that kind of effort, we’re going to be OK.”

Said USC coach Michael Cooper on the Wildcats: “I thought they came out and established their game plan right from the start. Although we out-rebounded them, they were able to execute their offense, they came out and ran and they just took it to us.”

The Arizona-Stanford game will begin at 1 p.m. Tucson time and will be televised by Fox Sports Net. The Cardinal won both meetings this season — 87-54 in Palo Alto and 91-61 in Tucson.

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