The University of Arizona women's basketball team (2-2) hosts NC State (3-1) on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center. The Wildcats will face its second opponent from the ACC in as many weeks, as the teams meet on the hardwood for the first time.
BTI CLASSIC RECAP:
Arizona managed to go 1-2 during the three games in three days BTI Classic hosted by the University of Maryland this past weekend. The Wildcats lost the first two games of the tourney to No. 25 George Washington (69-65) on Friday, and No. 1 Maryland on Saturday (75-61), but rebounded to beat TCU on Sunday (59-56).
GEORGE WASHINGTON RECAP:
No. 25 George Washington outscored Arizona 10-3 in the final 1:37 of the game to earn a 69-65 win over the Wildcats on Friday in the opening game of the BTI Classic in the Comcast Center.
Arizona led 62-59 with 1:37 left, but gave up eight-consecutive points to GW down the stretch to miss a near upset of the Colonials.
Arizona shot 39.7 percent (23-58) from the field in the game, including a 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) mark from three-point territory, and finished 12-for-17 (70.6 percent) from the free throw line. GW out-rebounded Arizona 37-30, and shot 48.0 percent (24-50) from the field.
Junior Ashley Whisonant led the Wildcats with 20 points and six assists while playing before a hometown crowd. Senior Joy Hollingsworth added 15 points, freshman Rheya Neabors finished with 10 points, and sophomore Amina Njonkou chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.
No. 1-ranked Maryland took advantage of a dismal Arizona first half, and hung on in the second half for a 75-61 win over the Wildcats on Saturday in the BTI Classic before 6,235 fans in the Comcast Center.
Arizona shot 46.4 percent (26-56) from the field in the game, but started off shooting 15.4 percent (2-13). The Wildcats registered 12 steals, and scored 31 points off of 22 Maryland turnovers.
The Terps shot 45.8 percent (27-59) from the floor, and out-rebounded Arizona 42-27, using 17 offensive rebounds for 20 second-chance points. Maryland was also 15-for-20 at the free throw line, as Arizona shot 6-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Individually for the Wildcats, senior Joy Hollingsworth scored 22 points and tallied six second-half steals. Sophomore Malia O'Neal added a career-high 11 points while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, and junior Suzy Bofia posted eight points and six rebounds.
Senior Joy Hollingsworth hit two free throws with 14 seconds left in overtime to give Arizona a 59-56 win over TCU on Sunday afternoon in the BTI Classic in the Comcast Center, as the game featured 11 lead changes and nine ties.
Hollingsworth led Arizona with 11 points to go with seven rebounds and six steals. Freshman Rhaya Neabors and sophomore Amina Njonkou both added nine points and seven rebounds apiece, and junior Shannon Hobson chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds. Junior Ashley Whisonant posted six points, six rebounds, and five assists.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 23-for-68 (33.8 percent) from the field, and out-rebounded the Lady Frogs 51-41. Arizona was only 3-for-19 from three-point territory, but shot 76.9 percent (10-13) from the free throw line.
ABOUT THE WOLFPACK:
The North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-1) enter Friday's game fresh off a 63-48 win over UNC-Wilmington on Nov. 17. NC State has won its three games so far this season by an average of 23 points, but got dropped at Purdue by the Boilermakers, 68-38, on Nov. 15. As a team, NC State shoots 33.1 percent from the field, while averaging 59.5 points a game. The Wolfpack shoots 21.9 percent (14-64) from three-point land, and 70.7 percent (58-82) from the free throw line. NC State has out-rebounded its opponents 174-159 in the first four games. Junior forward Khadijah Whittington leads NC State with 11.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Head coach Kay Yow is in her 32nd season at the helm of the Wolfpack program.
THE NC STATE-ARIZONA SERIES:
Friday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between Arizona and NC State on the hardwood.
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 268-184 (.593) mark at Arizona and is 593-255 (.699) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just seven 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.
THE REST OF THE STAFF:
Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983): Enters her sixth season as an assistant with the Wildcats. Barney is the recruiting coordinator and is also responsible for scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Todd Holthaus (Grand Canyon, 1995): Enters his second season with the Wildcats after serving as the head coach at Flowing Wells High School for seven years. He is responsible for post player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Jonelle Streed (St. Cloud State, 2003): Enters her first season as assistant coach after having spent the previous two seasons as the program's graduate assistant video coordinator. She is responsible for perimeter player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
In the first four games, Arizona has been plagued by slow starts in each contest. So far this season, Arizona has been outscored 30-12 by the opposition in the first four minutes of its four games. Interestingly enough, Arizona is shooting 18.5 percent (5-27) from the field in the first four minutes of games.
At the start of each game, the Wildcats surrendered a 7-4 lead to Nicholls State in the opener, a 6-0 lead to No. 25 George Washington, a 31-5 lead to No. 1 Maryland, and a 9-0 lead to TCU.
RUN IT, RUN IT:
So far this season, Arizona has shown the ability to get back into ball games with the use of scoring runs. Here is a breakdown of some of the Wildcats' major scoring-streaks in the first four games:
25 points: 30-5 scoring run over 12:50 in the first half vs. Nicholls State
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: 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
Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense in the first four games. So far, Arizona has scored 148 points in the paint, which is 55 percent of the team's offensive production. The Wildcats are averaging 37 points in the paint each game.
ON THE REBOUND:
In the first four games, Arizona has out-rebounded its opposition 164-142. The Wildcats have grabbed 55 offensive rebounds, leading to 52 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 13.75 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points a game.
If you see police officers at the Wildcats' next game, don't be alarmed, as the entire team is guilty of being ball thieves on the court. In four games, Arizona has tallied 44 steals for an 11.0 spg average, second-best in the Pac- 10's early season. UA has posted double-figure steals in three of its four games, including a season-high 13 steals against TCU on Sunday. The Wildcats have also forced 84 turnovers on the opposition, which have led to 78 (19.5 ppg) points off of turnovers for Arizona. UA's No. 1 culprit is senior Joy Hollingsworth, who is averaging 3.75 spg which is second-best in the Pac-10. The Seattle native finished with six steals against Maryland and TCU, as all six of her steals against the Terps came in the second half.
Arizona has raced out to 41 fast-break points in four games, compared to just 18 points for the opposition in the open floor. The Wildcats posted a season-high 20 fast-break points against Nicholls State in the season opener.
Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 87 bench points in four games (21.7 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points in each game, notching 32 bench points against Nicholls State, 12 points against GW, 21 points against Maryland, and 22 points against TCU. The Arizona bench has accounting for 32 percent of the team's 268 points.
GOTTA HAVE IT:
So far this season, Arizona is shooting 62.9 percent (39-62) from the free throw line. After going 11-20 at the charity stripe against Nicholls State, Arizona shot 67 percent (28-42) from the free throw line in the three games of the BTI Classic, including a 10-13 (76.9 percent) mark against TCU.
Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it. In the first four games, nine players are averaging double-figures in playing time.
Sophomore Amina Njonkou has been a monster with her play in the paint so far this season. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds a game, to go with seven steals and five assists on the season. Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with career-highs (and game highs) of 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls State. She also posted nine points and nine rebounds against George Washington, and nine points and seven rebounds against TCU. Most impressively, Njonkou is a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line this season, as she shot 50 percent (6-12) from the charity stripe last year.
TO THE RESCUE:
She didn't have a cape on, but senior Joy Hollingsworth was Superwoman for the Wildcats when Arizona needed her the most this past weekend. Against TCU on Sunday, Hollingsworth hit two free throws with 14 seconds left in overtime to give Arizona a 59-56 win over the Lady Frogs. In regulation of that game, Hollingsworth put Arizona up 51-49 with 47 seconds left on a jumper in the paint. Against Maryland, Hollingsworth finished with a season-high 22 points. On the season, the Seattle native is averaging a team-best 15.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 3.75 spg, as she is the only Wildcat to score in double-figures in each of the first four games.
Sophomore Malia O'Neal was impressive with her play against the top-team in the nation on Saturday. Against the Terps, O'Neal finished with a career-high 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field. She also tallied three assists and a steal against the top-ranked Terps in just 19 minutes of action.
Freshmen Rheya and Rhaya Neabors have shown their ability to contribute to the Arizona lineup in the first four games. Individually, Rheya Neabors is averaging 7.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 25.3 minutes a game, and Rhaya Neabors is posting 3.3 ppg, and 3.8 rpg in 22.0 mpg. Combined, the sister duo is averaging 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game.
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.
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.
So far this season, Arizona is 0-2 against ranked opponents.
Last season, the Pacific-10 Conference placed six teams in the NCAA Tournament (Stanford, Arizona State, California, USC, UCLA, Washington) the most ever fielded in one postseason in conference history. Those same six teams from the Pac-10 are listed in the Top-25 rankings.
Arizona is 36-18 (.667) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of November, including a 24-11 (.686) mark in the month since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
Arizona will travel to the Lone Star State to take on UTEP on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m., and Texas A&M on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.