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011-14-07 Arizona vs. Portland Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/14/2007
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Complete Release as a PDF

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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (1-2) returns from the East for its 2007-08 season home opener on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.? The Wildcats will host the Portland Pilots (2-0) in the first meeting between the two schools on the hardwood.

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Catch the Action:

As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Derrick Palmer and Shannon Hobson calling the action from courtside.? Please visit www.arizonaathletics.com for all of your live stats and live video needs.

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WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic Recap:

Arizona opened the season with three games in three days at the WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic hosted by Penn State in University Park, Pa.? The Wildcats took on the Lady Lions on Friday in the season opener for both teams, falling 87-78 in a closely contested game.? On Saturday, Arizona faced off against No. 20 Pittsburgh and struggled in the first half on the way to an 81-58 loss.? The Wildcats rebounded in the third game on Sunday against Charlotte, using a late second half run to push the game overtime tied at 71-71.? Arizona dominated the 49ers in extra play, outscoring them 15-6 en route to an 86-77 victory.

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About the Pilots:

The University of Portland Pilots enters Fridayˇ?s game with a perfect 2-0 record on the early season, with both victories coming on the road.? Portland beat Washington State, 70-40, on Nov. 9, and earned an 83-55 win over Idaho on Nov. 11.? Last season, the Pilots went 10-20 overall, with a 2-12 mark in the West Coast Conference.? UP returned 12 players from last yearˇ?s squad and that depth is showing now.? In two games, 12 players are averaging double-figures in playing time.? Portland is led in scoring by sophomore Laiken Dollente who averages 13.5 points a game, and sophomore Laura Thomas adds 11.5 points a game.? As a team, the Pilots shoot 48.7 percent (57-117) from the floor, 29.2 percent (7-24) from three point range and 71.1 percent (32-45) from the free throw line.? Portland has held its two opponents to 26.7 percent shooting (27-101), and outrebounded WSU and Idaho by a combined figure of 88-66.? Portland has outscored its two opponents 85-39 in the first half.? Head coach Jim Sollars is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Portland program.

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Series Notes:

Fridayˇ?s game will be the first meeting in school history between Arizona and Portland on the hardwood.

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November Numbers:

Arizona is 39-21 (.650) since 1991 under head coach Joan Bonvicini in the month of November, including a 24-11 mark (.686) in the month since the start of the 1999-00 season.? Last year, Arizona went 4-3 in November, and is 1-2 in the month so far this season.

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Home Openers:

Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats are 13-3 in home openers since the 1991-92 season.? Arizona has won its last four-straight home openers, including an 83-41 win over Nicholls State last year.? Arizonaˇ?s last home opener loss in McKale Center was against LSU, 71-78, in overtime on Nov. 22, 2002.? A history lesson: after that loss to LSU on opening night, the Wildcats won their next 34 consecutive home games.

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Arizona Head Coach Joan Bonvicini (17th season):

The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 17 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 11 years, and in 2003-04 won a share of the conference regular-season title for the first time in school history.

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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, 22 All-Pac-10 honorees, 17 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team choices and 18 Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Bonvicini holds a 278-205 (.576) mark at Arizona and is 603-276 (.686) in 29 years as a head coach. On Feb. 8, 2007, Bonvicini became the 18th coach in NCAA Division I women's basketball history to reach the 600 win milestone with a 65-61 victory over Oregon State in McKale Center. She has a career record of 24-17 in NCAA Tournament play and has lost just two first-round games in 17 tourney appearances.

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Make Those Layups!:

In basketball, it is almost a sin to miss a layup.? You just have to have layupsˇ? period.? This past weekend at the WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic, Arizona missed a combined 51 layups in three games.? The Wildcats missed 12 layups against Penn State, 17 layups against Pittsburgh and 22 layups against Charlotte.? Put it this way, if Arizona had made just half of those misses (weˇ?ll say 25 is half), the Wildcats would be shooting 53.5 percent from the field right now instead of 41 percent (82-200).

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Slow Starts:

In the first three games, Arizona was outscored 122-82 by the opposition in the first half.

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Needs Improvement:

For Arizona to continue its winning ways, the Wildcats will need to improve their outside shooting from behind the three-point line.? Through three games, Arizona has hit 10-of-43 three pointers for a 23.3 percent clip.? Opponents, on the other hand, are putting up a 39.7 percent mark (25-63) from three point land on the Wildcats.

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Toe That Line:

So far, the Wildcats have shown an ability as a team to get to the free throw line.? In University Park, Pa., Arizona made it to the free throw line 68 times, hitting 48 free ones for a 70.6 percent mark.? That is a vast improvement from last seasonˇ?s FT percentage of 67.7 percent.? Against Charlotte, the Wildcats got to the line 36 times, hitting 22 free throws, including a 5-of-7 mark in overtime to seal the win.

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Check Yourself:

Although Arizona has the ability to get to the line, the Wildcats need to limit their fouls on the defense end to keep their opponents off of the free throw line.? In the first three games, Arizona committed 65 personal fouls, sending foes to the line 73 times.? Opponents are shooting 74 percent (54-73) from the line, a number Arizona needs to reduce.

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Grab That Ball:

So far, Arizona isnˇ?t doing the job it is supposed to do on the boards.? Through three games, Arizona is getting outrebounded by the opposition 135-112.? The Wildcats, however, have managed to pull down 44 offensive rebounds.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

The Wildcats can put some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through three games, Arizona has forced 63 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 21.0 turnovers a game.? The Wildcats, on the other hand, have only turned the ball over 49 times, and own a +4.7 turnover margin.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 29 steals so far on the season for a 9.7 steals per game average.? Arizona racked up 13 steals against Charlotte on Sunday.

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Lotta Action:

So far, a lot of Wildcats are getting a lot of action.? Through three games, 10 Wildcats are averaging double figures in playing time, led by senior Ashley Whisonantˇ?s 37.0 minutes per game average.

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Freshmen Impact:

Arizonaˇ?s freshmen have been highly touted since signing day, and so far, they have shown just what talent they do possess. Against Charlotte, freshmen Tasha Dickey and Ify Ibekwe combined for 29 points and 13 rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting (63.2 percent) from the floor.? Dickey posted led Arizona with 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half, and Ibekwe barely missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

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vs. Ranked Teams:

Arizona faced No. 20 Pittsburgh on Saturday but was unable to reverse a recent trend, losing to the Panthers, 58-81.? Over the last three seasons, the Wildcats are 0-20 against ranked opponents, going 0-12 against ranked teams last year.

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AW Leads the Way:

Senior guard Ashley Whisonant will be counted on to lead at the point this season, and she has already flourished in that position.? This past weekend, Whisonant played at an All-American level.? The Bowie, Md., native averaged 20.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three games.? She shot 45.2 percent (19-42) from the field while averaging 37.0 minutes a game.? Against Penn State in the opener, Whisonant scored a career-high 26 points to go with seven assists.? Against No. 20 Pitt, she finished with a game-high 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half, to go with five rebounds, and posted 17 points and five rebounds in the win against Charlotte.? In the first three games, Whisonant posted a 21-of-24 mark from the free throw line (87.5 percent).? Last season, the 1,000-point scorer averaged 11.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game.

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All-Time Scorer:?

Ashley Whisonant scored her 1,000th career point in the final game of the season last year, and look for her to climb up the Arizona all-time point leader list this season.? With 62 points last weekend, Whisonant moved past Kim Conway (1,060 points, 1990-94) for the No. 13 spot on the all-time scoring list.? Now standing at 1,065 career points (96 games), Whisonant needs 79 points to catch Yolanda Turner (1984-87) for the No. 12 position.

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Amina the Bull:

Junior forward Amina Njonkou is a force down low in the paint, and her strength allows her to bull over defenders.? Through three games, Njonkou is averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, while shooting 48.5 percent (16-33) from the field.? Against Penn State, Njonkou posted the fifth double-double of her career with a career-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.? She followed that up with 14 points against No. 20 Pitt and 12 points against Charlotte.? Last season, the 6-foot-1 Foumban, Cameroon native averaged 8.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds a game, posting a team best four double-doubles.?

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D??j?¤ vu:

If you paid close attention to the box score in Fridayˇ?s season opening game against Penn State, you might have noticed something shockingly similar to last seasonˇ?s opener against Nicholls State.? Against Nicholls State, Njonkou finished that game with a career-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, including a 3-of-3 mark from the free throw line, to go with 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.? Against Penn State on Friday, Njonkou posted 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor, including a 3-of-4 mark from the floor, to go with 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double.

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Ms. Wildcat:

Freshman Tasha Dickey, simply put, was born to be a Wildcat.? The daughter of two former Arizona athletes, Dickey has shown her tremendous athletic ability on the court.? In the first three games, Dickey averaged 10.3 points on 12-of-21 shooting (57.1 percent), 2.7 rebounds and a team-best 2.3 steals a game.? Against Charlotte, Dickey led the Wildcats with 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting.

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Welcome Back:

After struggling with injuries last season, sophomore Rheya Neabors has already shown how much she can contribute to the lineup with her versatility.? In two games, Neabors has averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.? Against Charlotte, Neabors set six career highs in that game.? She posted a career-high 11 points, pulling down a career-best nine rebounds, taking a career-high 11 field goal attempts, making a career-best five free throws on a career-high six free throw attempts in a career-best 36 minutes of action.

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Nice Start:

Freshman Ify Ibekwe comes from a family of distinguished athletes and she is trying to prove that she is the best yet.? The 6-foot-1 Carson, Calif., native from Narbonne HS was a spark on the court in the first three games, averaging 7.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting (10-16) and 3.3 rebounds a game in just 12.0 minutes per game.? Fouls have plagued the young stud, however, as Ibekwe finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in 13 minutes against Charlotte before fouling out.

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Cats Picked To Finish Eighth in the Pac-10:

The University of Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team was selected to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference in a preseason vote by the conferenceˇ?s head coaches.? The Wildcats garnered 31 points in the poll, as seven-time defending Pac-10 champion Stanford was chosen as the favorite to win this yearˇ?s Pac-10 title.

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The Cardinal received eight of 10 first-place votes and 79 points, as Arizona State received a first-place nod and tallied 71 points to place second. California was tabbed to finish third with a first-place vote and 68 points, followed by fourth-place USC with 56 points and fifth-place UCLA with 44 points. Washington grabbed 41 points to place sixth, followed by Oregon (34), as Arizona (31), Oregon State (16) and Washington State (10) rounded out the poll.

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Tough Schedule:

Year in and year out, Arizona never runs away from a challenge, but rather takes on the best teams in the nation head on during the nonconference schedule before playing in the always daunting Pac-10 Conference.

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The Wildcats will play 29 games during 2007-08, 13 games in McKale Center and 16 on the road, with 14 games scheduled against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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The UA will take on 10 teams that competed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, with non-conference matchups against Middle Tennessee State, Pittsburgh, Boise State, New Mexico, NC State, and UW-Green Bay, along with Pac-10 series against California, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State.

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Rank This:

Arizonaˇ?s tough schedule is apparent when you take a look at this yearˇ?s preseason rankings.? In the WBCA/USA Today/ESPN and AP Preseason poll, five of the top 25 teams in the nation will play the Wildcats during the regular season.? Arizona will face No. 9 Stanford, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 14 California, No. 21 Pittsburgh and No. 25 NC State.? Additionally, six other Arizona opponents (Middle Tennessee, USC, New Mexico, UCLA, Boise State and Wisconsin-Green Bay) each received votes in the poll.

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Up Next:

Arizona will travel to No. 24 NC State for a game in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. (EST).

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