COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team (4-6, 0-1) returns from its holiday break for a 7 p.m. game against Washington State (6-4, 0-2) this Thursday, Dec. 29. Video, audio and live stats of this and every home game are available at www.arizonaathletics.com.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona dropped its fourth-straight game, 83-59, to No. 10/12 Arizona State last Thursday in its Pac-10 season opener at McKale. The Wildcats shot 49 percent from the field, 20 percent from downtown and 69 percent from the free throw line on the game. Arizona State connected on 54 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 100 percent from the charity stripe. The Sun Devils out-rebounded Arizona 33 to 26 and forced the Wildcats into a season-high 28 turnovers while committing 16. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant led Arizona with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Junior Linda Pace added a career-high-tying 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Sophomores Ch?© Oh and Jessica Arnold finished with eight points apiece. Freshman Malia O'Neal dished out seven assists in the loss.
Whisonant leads the Wildcats this season with 15.4 points and 4.3 assists per game. Senior Natalie Jones adds 15.3 points, while junior Joy Hollingsworth averages 12.6 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 41 percent from the field, compared to the 46 percent of their opponents. They are also being out-rebounded 35.3 to 37.9.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: Down by as many as 14 in the first half, Washington State rallied to take a second-half lead, but in the end the Cougars could not hold on as WSU fell to California 53-47 last Thursday at Beasley Coliseum. Charmaine Jones led the Cougars with 13 points, while Amanda DuRocher added 11. Kate Benz, who entered the game as the conference leader in rebounds, pulled down a game-high 12 boards. WSU out-rebounded California 38 to 30, but struggled shooting all game long. The Cougars finished the contest converting 16-of-59 (27 percent) including 6-of-27 from three-point territory. California shot 50 percent from the field on the game.
On the season, the Cougars are led by Katie Appelton, who averages 11.3 points per game. Jones and Benz add 10.1 and 8.9 points, respectively. Benz also averages a team-best 11.5 boards. As a team, WSU is shooting 35 percent from the field on the season, compared to the 38 percent of its opponents. The Cougars are out-rebounding their opponents 44.4 to 36.4.
SERIES SHORTS: Arizona leads the all-time series with the Cougars 21-17. The last time the two teams met, on Feb. 26, 2005, the Wildcats won 89-60 in Tucson. Arizona is 11-8 at home and 10-9 away vs. Washington State.
INJURY UPDATE: Freshman Amina Njonkou has a stress fracture in her right foot and is out another two weeks.
RANKING IN THE PAC-10: As a team, Arizona ranks in the bottom half of the conference in every statistical category but free throw percentage, where it is fifth.
Individually, several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in various categories. Senior Natalie Jones is second in free throw percentage (.894), third in steals (29), fourth in minutes per game (35.0), eighth in three-point field goals made (17) and ninth in scoring (15.3). Sophomore Ashley Whisonant is fifth in assists (4.3), and eighth in both scoring (15.4) and steals (2.1). Sophomore Ch?© Oh ranks 10th in minutes per game (32.2), while freshman Whitney Fields is sixth in offensive rebounds (2.7).
HACK AWAY: The Wildcats are fouling quite a bit this season. In its 10 games, Arizona has committed more fouls than its opponent seven times and the same number once. The Wildcats have fouled less than their opponent only twice, against Chicago State and Arizona State. Arizona has committed 20 or more fouls in five games this season, three of which have been losses.
WILDCAT TRIFECTA: Senior Natalie Jones, junior Joy Hollingsworth and sophomore Ashley Whisonant lead the Wildcats this season. The trio account for 62 percent of the team’s points. Whisonant has reached double-digit scoring in each of the 10 games, while Jones and Hollingsworth have 10 or more points in eight games.
ARIZONA WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE: In eight of its 10 games this season, Arizona has committed the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent. However, the Wildcats have turned the ball over more than their opponents in each of their last two games, including a season-high 28 giveaways against the Sun Devils last week. The Wildcats average 3.4 fewer turnovers than their opponents, eight of which have committed 20 or more turnovers.
LACK OF SIZE EXPOSED: With the death of 6-5 Shawntinice Polk and the medical redshirt of 6-2 Shannon Hobson, Arizona is left without much size inside. As a result, the Wildcats have been out-rebounded in eight of their 10 games this season. The only two games in which Arizona pulled down more boards than its opponent were its first two games of the season against Loyola Marymount (42 to 36) and Furman (45 to 32). In the other eight games, the Wildcats have managed just 33.2 rebounds to their opponents’ 38.6.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP FOR WHISONANT: Sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant is leading the team with 15.4 points and 4.3 assists per game. The Bowie, Md., native dished out a career-high 11 assists in Arizona’s win over Furman on Nov. 22 and tied her career high of 21 points against Lehigh on Dec. 4. She has also been named to both all-tournament teams in which Arizona has participated.
THE DISH ABOUT O’NEAL: Since entering the lineup Dec. 17 at Fresno State, freshman point guard Malia O'Neal is already making her presence felt. In 36 minutes over three appearances, she is averaging 2.7 assists per game. The Seattle native dished out a career-high seven assists in Arizona’s loss to ASU last Thursday.
PACE SETTING A NEW PACE: Junior Linda Pace has more than sextupled her points and quintupled her minutes from a year ago. The guard from San Diego, who has started all 10 games for the Wildcats this season, is averaging 5.7 points in 24.2 minutes per game. In 21 appearances last season, she averaged 0.9 points in 4.2 minutes per game.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior Natalie Jones ranks fourth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.770), sixth in three-point field goals attempted (306) and eighth in three-point field goals made (89).
GOING POLLING: Six of Arizona’s 2005-06 opponents (Stanford, Maryland, UCLA, USC, Utah and Arizona State) were nationally ranked in the various preseason polls. Pac-10 power Stanford is ranked as high as No. 8, while Pac-10 teams USC and Arizona State were ranked in all four polls. Arizona received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) polls.
STACKED PAC: As a conference, the Pac-10 finished last season ranked as the third toughest conference in the nation after sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. Finishing ahead of the Pac-10 were the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Wildcats have a challenging schedule that includes 12 games against eight teams (Arizona State, Maryland, Oregon, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, USC, Utah and Wisconsin-Green Bay) that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Of those teams, six advanced to the second round, while Arizona State made it to the Sweet 16 and Stanford to the Elite Eight.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH SIXTH, SEVENTH IN PAC-10: Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Wildcats garnered 42 points, just one point behind fifth-place Oregon. In the media poll, Arizona was picked to finish seventh in the conference, receiving 59 votes.
WILDCATS ON THE RADIO: All of Arizona’s games this season are broadcast on Tucson’s Jolt, KJLL 1330 AM, the radio home of Arizona women’s basketball. With Paul Johnson in his 11th year as the Wildcats’ play-by-play announcer, the Jolt will broadcast every game, home and away.
WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Wildcats have four more games this season that will be broadcast on FSN:
Saturday, Dec. 31 - 4 p.m. vs. Washington (FSN Northwest, tape delayed on FSN Arizona)
Sunday, Jan. 8 - noon vs. USC (FSN)
Saturday, Jan. 14 - noon vs. Oregon (FSN)
Sunday, Jan. 22 - 1 p.m. (PST) at California (FSN)
In addition, the Wildcats’ games at home against Stanford (Feb. 18) and at Arizona State (Feb. 25) are "wild card" games that could get picked up in the Pac-10 television package.
UP NEXT: Arizona hosts Washington for a 4 p.m. game Saturday, Dec. 31, in McKale. The game will be broadcast live on FSN Northwest and on tape-delay at 10 p.m. on FSN Arizona.