The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (5-3) faces another stiff test when the Wildcats host the No. 23-ranked New Mexico Lobos (5-2) on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center. Arizona has won four of its last five games, and heads into Tuesday’s game 3-0 at home, but is 0-3 on the season against ranked opponents.
SENIOR CITIZEN NIGHT:
Tuesday’s game against New Mexico is Senior Citizen Night, sponsored by Humana. All seniors (55+) admission is just $1! There will also be a drawing for a one night stay in a suite courtesy of Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites.
CATCH THE ACTION:
As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Paul Johnson calling the action from courtside.
Live statistics and live video feeds are available at the Arizona athletics department official website: arizonaathletics.com
BEATRICE BOFIA OUT FOR SEASON:
Junior Beatrice Bofia will undergo knee surgery and will miss the remainder of the season, head coach Joan Bonvicini announced Friday. The 6-foot-7 center will have surgery performed to repair an ACL tear in her left knee. Bofia has not played in any of the Wildcats' first seven games this season after suffering the injury during pregame warm-ups of the Red & Blue game on Nov. 1.
LOUISIANA TECH RECAP:
Arizona made a season-best 23 free throws to make up for 35.8 percent (24-67) shooting from the field, as the Wildcats (5-3) rolled to a 74-59 win over Louisiana Tech (2-5) on Sunday afternoon in McKale Center. The victory marks Arizona’s first win in program history against Louisiana Tech in five tries.
Arizona was 23-of-31 (74.2 percent) from the free throw line, and out-rebounded the Lady Techsters 46-40 by pulling down 20 offensive rebounds. The Wildcats also tallied 14 steals off of 29 La Tech turnovers.
Individually for the Wildcats, junior Ashley Whisonant scored a career-high 22 points (8-22) to go with five rebounds, and senior Joy Hollingsworth scored 22 points (6-16) for the third time this season while tallying five rebounds and five steals. Junior Shannon Hobson finished with a season-high 16 points, and sophomore Amina Njonkou and junior Suzy Bofia combined for eight points and 16 rebounds.
Four Lady Techsters scored in double-figures led by Ty Moore’s double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Arizona jumped on top of Louisiana Tech early, using a 16-0 scoring run in the early minutes to race out to a 16-2 lead at the 15:30 mark. The Wildcats then gave up a 16-3 run to La Tech, as a three by Eboni Mangum cut the UA lead to 28-25 with 4:41 left in the first half. Arizona and La Tech traded baskets down the stretch as the Wildcats went into halftime with a 36-30 advantage. UA shot 42.9 percent (12-28) from the field in the first half, while holding La Tech to a 33.3 percent (11-33) mark.
The Wildcats shot 30.8 percent (12-39) from the field in the second half, but got to the free throw line 19 times to convert 14 free throw attempts. The Wildcats led by double-figures for much of the final seven minutes of the game, as La Tech shot 37.5 percent (13-31) from the field in the second half.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA:
Arizona averages 65.8 points a game while shooting 40.6 percent (204-502) from the field, 26.7 percent (31-116) from three-point territory, and 64.0 percent (87-136) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents 318-304 in eight games, and have tallied 81 steals (10.1 spg) off of 166 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.3 steals per game.
ABOUT THE LOBOS:
The University of New Mexico Lobos enter Tuesday’s game with a 5-2 overall record, a four-game winning streak, and a No. 23 national ranking. New Mexico has won its last three games by an average of 31.3 points. As a team, the Lobos shoot 39.5 percent (147-372) from the field, 32.3 percent (40-124) from three point territory, and 67.3 percent (134-199) from the free throw line, while averaging 66.9 points per game. Senior guard Julie Briody averages 16.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game, and junior forward Dionne Marsh adds 16.0 points and 6.9 rebounds a contest. Head coach Don Flanagan is in his 12th season at the helm of the Lobo program.
THE NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA SERIES:
Tuesday’s matchup will be the 17th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Lobos on the hardwood, with Arizona holding a 9-7 series advantage. The Wildcats are 3-2 all-time against the Lobos at home. These two teams last met on Dec. 20, 2003, a 50-49 win for the Wildcats in “The Pit” in Albuquerque.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI:
The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 15 seasons at the helm, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to nine postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournament berths and a WNIT Championship.
Under Bonvicini's tutelage, the Wildcats have finished in the upper tier of the Pac-10 in nine of the last 10 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history. During this time, Arizona has been nationally ranked multiple times, including a best ever ranking of No. 7 in 1998.
Bonvicini's success is mirrored in her players' accolades. She has produced one All-American, five honorable mention All-America selections, a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year, 21 All-Pac-10 honorees, 16 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 11 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 271-185 (.594) mark at Arizona and is 596-256 (.700) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just four wins to become the 13th coach in NCAA history to reach 600 career wins. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.
Arizona hasn’t played much at home yet this season, but the Wildcats have made the most of their three games in McKale Center. Arizona is 3-0 so far at home thanks in part to some high-powered offense. The Wildcats are averaging 75.0 points per game in McKale Center, while shooting 41.3 percent (85-206) from the field. UA is out-rebounding opponents 140-109, and is limiting visiting teams to just 55.3 points a game and a 34.8 percent (62-178) shooting percentage.
A TALE OF TWO TEAMS:
Obviously, there are some major statistical differences when the Wildcats win games compared to when the Wildcats lose games. As stated, here they are. In the five games Arizona has won, the Wildcats are averaging 71. 2 points a game, shooting 40.7 percent (136-334) from the field, 65-of-100 (65.0 percent) from the line, and are out-rebounding the opposition 229-184. In the three games Arizona has lost, the Wildcats are averaging 56.7 points per game, shooting 40.5 percent (68-168) from the field, 22-of-36 (61.1 percent) from the free throw line, while being out-rebounded 89-120 by the opposition.
CLOSE RANGE BLANKS:
Arizona has had some difficulty converting shots close to the basket in its last two contests, as the Wildcats are converting just 43.5 percent (30-69) of their close range shot attempts. On Sunday against Louisiana Tech, Arizona shot 18-of-39 (46.1 percent) on shots close to the rim.
Against No. 10 Texas A&M on Nov. 28, the Wildcats converted 12-of-30 (40 percent) of their layups against the Aggies in the game, which led to Arizona shooting a season-low 35.2 percent (19-54) from the field. Arizona started the game 5-of-7 on layups, but finished the first half 0-for-5 in the final 11 minutes on layup conversions, and went 7-of-18 from close range in the second half.
NOTHING BUT RIM:
Maybe it’s the recent cold front in Tucson, but whatever it is; the Wildcats have not shot the ball with the greatest of accuracy in their last two outings. In the last two games, Arizona is shooting just 35.5 percent (43-121) from the floor, including an 18.5 percent (5-27) mark from three point land. UA shot 35.2 percent from the field against Texas A&M, and 35.8 percent against Louisiana Tech, the two lowest marks for the Cats this season.
FREE THROWS = FREE POINTS:
Although Arizona hasn’t put the ball in the basket from the floor, the Wildcats have done a solid job of getting to the line and knocking down their free throws. In the last two games, Arizona shot 71.1 percent (27-38) from the charity stripe, a mark well above the team’s season average of 64.0 percent (87-136). The Wildcats made a season-high 23 free throws on 31 attempts against Louisiana Tech on Sunday. UA was shooting 61.2 percent (60-98) before the previous two contests.
Arizona has played a very challenging schedule in the early part of the season, and things will not get any easier down the stretch. Including Tuesday’s game with New Mexico, the Wildcats' first nine games of the season have been against teams with a combined record of 46-23 (.667).
RUN IT, RUN IT:
So far this season, Arizona has shown the ability to put together some large scoring runs. Here is a breakdown of some of the Wildcats' major scoring-streaks in the first six games:
25 points: 30-5 scoring run over 12:50 in the first half vs. Nicholls State
21 points: 30-9 run over the final 6:53 of the first half at UTEP
16 points: 16-0 run over 3:13 in the first half vs. Louisiana Tech
16 points: 20-4 run over the final 8:11 of the game at Maryland
15 points: 15-0 run over 4:40 in the first half vs. GW
12 points: 12-0 run over 5:55 in first half vs. NC State
12 points: 18-6 run over the final 7:50 of the game vs. Nicholls State
10 points: 10-0 run over 1:47 in the second half vs. GW
THE BIG, BAD RUN:
Although Arizona can score points in bunches, the Wildcats have a tendency to give up large scoring runs to the opposition. Here is a look at some of the scoring runs Arizona has given up to opponents:
26 points: 31-5 scoring run to Maryland in 9:59 to start the first half
21 points: 26-5 run to Texas A&M in the final 7:31 of the first half
16 points: 21-5 run to UTEP in the final 3:37 of the game
13 points: 16-3 run to Louisiana Tech in 5:29 in the first half
Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season. Arizona has scored 266 points in the paint, which is 51 percent of the team's offensive production. The Wildcats are averaging 33.3 points in the paint each game.
Junior Ashley Whisonant and senior Joy Hollingsworth have made quite the duo for Arizona in the backcourt. In the last two games, the duo has combined to score 71 of Arizona’s 118 points (60.2 percent). Against Louisiana Tech, Whisonant and Hollingsworth scored 22 points a piece, totaling 44 of the team’s 74 points (59.5 percent), despite shooting a combined 14-of-38 (36.8 percent) from the field.
ON THE REBOUND:
So far this season, Arizona has out-rebounded its opposition 318-304. The Wildcats have grabbed 115 offensive rebounds, leading to 109 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 14.4 offensive rebounds and 13.6 second-chance points a game. Against La Tech on Sunday, the Wildcats grabbed 20 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points.
WATCH YOUR POCKETS:
Arizona has tallied 81 steals (10.1 spg) on the season off of 166 opponent turnovers, which is the second-best mark in the Pac-10. Arizona has converted 152 points (19.0 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season. Against Louisiana Tech, Arizona tallied 14 steals while forcing 29 Lady Techster turnovers, leading to 27 points off of turnovers in the game. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 3.3 spg (second in the Pac-10).
Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 142 bench points in eight games (17.8 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points seven of the first eight games this season, as the bench has accounted for 26.9 percent of the team's 526 points.
Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it. In the first eight games, nine players are averaging double-figures in playing time. In the past four games, seven Wildcats or more have averaged double-figures in playing time.
Sophomore Amina Njonkou has been a monster with her play in the paint. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 9.4 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds a game. She leads the team with 24 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 49.2 percent (30-61) from the field, and 71.4 (15-21) percent from the free throw line. Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with career-highs (and game highs) of 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls State.
GIVE HER THE ROCK:
Senior Joy Hollingsworth has proven she can put the ball in the basket during her career, and she is continuing her scoring ways this season. The 5-10 guard is averaging a team-best 16.3 points a game, as she is the only Wildcat to score in double-figures each contest, scoring 22 points on three different occasions. She is also averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 steals a game.
In the last three games, Hollingsworth is averaging 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
Junior Ashley Whisonant has upped her game recently, leading the Wildcats in scoring in back-to-back outings. The 5-8 Bowie, Md., native led Arizona with 14 points against Texas A&M, and a career-high 22 points against Louisiana Tech. On the season, Whisonant is averaging 12.4 points and a team-best 3.4 assists per game.
Junior Shannon Hobson has been a valuable force off the bench for the Wildcats this season. Against Louisiana Tech, the 6-2 forward-center scored a season-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds in 20 minutes of reserve work. On the season, Hobson is averaging 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds a contest, while shooting 54.8 percent (17-31) from the field in 20.2 minutes off the bench.
No, you are not seeing double, and no it is not a typo on the roster. Freshmen Rheya and Rhaya Neabors are twin sisters who can straight up ball. Individually, Rheya Neabors is averaging 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.3 minutes a game, and Rhaya Neabors is posting 3.1 ppg, and 3.1 rpg in 22.3 mpg. Combined, the sister duo is averaging 8.4 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
Like every season, Arizona competes against some of the toughest competition in the nation. This year will be no different. The Wildcats will face a strong non-conference slate to go along with the always-difficult Pac-10 Conference season. Arizona will play 20 games this season against 12 teams that participated in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will face defending national champion Maryland and NCAA Tournament teams George Washington and TCU in the first week of the season. Arizona also hosts NC State, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico, and travels to Texas A&M and Utah. After the brutal non-conference slate, Arizona must throw blows with its Pac-10 Conference foes, including Arizona State, California, Stanford, Washington, USC, and UCLA, all tournament teams from a year ago.
Arizona's tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this year's preseason rankings. In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN Preseason Top-25 Poll, nine of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the season. Defending champs Maryland tops the list at No. 1 in the nation, followed by No. 4 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 20 New Mexico, No. 21 California, No. 22 USC, No. 23 UCLA, and No. 25 Washington. Additionally, five other Arizona opponents (George Washington, Utah, TCU, Louisiana Tech, and NC State) received double-digit votes in the poll. Seven teams Arizona has played or will play are currently ranked in the top-25.
So far this season, Arizona is 0-3 against ranked opposition.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH SEVENTH IN PAC-10:
The University of Arizona women's basketball team was selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conference's head coaches on Oct., 16. The Wildcats garnered 32 points in the poll, as defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this year's Pac-10 title.
The Cardinal received nine of 10 first-place votes and 81 points, as Arizona State received the remaining first-place nod and tallied 70 points to place second. USC was tabbed to finish third with 63 points, followed by California and Washington with 53 points for a tie for the fourth-place slot. UCLA grabbed 46 points to place sixth, followed by Arizona (32), as Oregon (22), Washington State (16) and Oregon State (14) rounded out the poll.
Arizona was also selected to finish seventh in the Pac-10 Media Poll released Nov. 7.
Arizona is 73-29 (.716) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 59-18 (.766) mark in the month since the start of the 1995-96 season. The Wildcats have gone undefeated in the month of December three times, while losing just one game in the month three other times. Arizona is 1-0 so far in the month of December.
Arizona will next travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.