COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team (3-2) faces Chicago State (5-1) in the championship game of the Mission Management & Trust Fiesta Bowl Classic at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. Tulane (2-1) and Lehigh (2-4) play in the consolation game at 1 p.m. Video, audio and live stats of the game are available at www.arizonaathletics.com.
Note: We are experiencing upload problems related to the video webcast. The live video webcast will not be available for the championship game. We will upload the video for on-demand viewing at the conclusion of the game.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: The Wildcats used a big second half to defeat Lehigh 78-58 in the Mission Management & Trust 2005 Fiesta Bowl Classic at McKale Center Saturday afternoon. Arizona shot 48 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the arc and 73 percent from the free throw line on the game. Lehigh connected on 38, 53 and 53 percent of its shots, respectively, on the game. The Mountain Hawks out-rebounded the Wildcats 38 to 35 on the game, but Arizona forced 22 Lehigh turnovers and blocked six shots. Senior Natalie Jones led Arizona with 22 points to go along with seven rebounds and four steals. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant added 21 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals, while junior Joy Hollingsworth finished with 12 points and five boards.
Jones leads the Wildcats this season, averaging 16.6 points. Hollingsworth adds 16.4 points and 5.4 rebounds, while Whisonant averages 16.0 points and 6.2 assists per game. Sophomore Ch?© Oh and freshman Whitney Fields average 6.6 rebounds each to pace Arizona. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 42 percent from the field and out-rebounding opponents 38.8 to 37.4.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: The Cougars overcame a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Tulane, 65-64, in the first game of the Mission Management & Trust 2005 Fiesta Bowl Classic Saturday afternoon. Ayesha Neasley hit a jumper with 53 seconds remaining in the game to give Chicago State its first lead of the second half at 63-62. Neasley then hit consecutive free throws with 20 seconds left, as she extended the Cougars’ lead to 65-62. The Green Wave had one final chance to tie the game and put the ball in the hands of Nikki Luckurst, who scored a game-high 20 points, but her three-point attempt missed with one second remaining and Kendra Barnes put-back as time expired was not enough for the Green Wave. Neasley finished with 13 points for the Cougars, who trailed 50-40 with 11:33 remaining in the game. Chicago State also grabbed eight second half offensive rebounds en route to the come-from-behind victory. Faith Buchanan scored a team-high 15 points for the Cougars. Renada Blackburn and Tina Hill each chipped in 10 points each.
SERIES SHORTS: Arizona is 1-0 all-time vs. the Cougars. The Wildcats defeated Chicago State 70-50 on Dec. 19, 2004, in Chicago, in the two teams’ only meeting.
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: In the 14-year history of the Fiesta Bowl Classic, Arizona has won the tournament 10 times. Three times the Wildcats lost in the championship game, while in the 2001 tournament, Arizona failed to play in the championship game and actually lost the third-place game. Arizona has had 36 all-tournament team players, including 10 MVPs. Last year, senior Natalie Jones and sophomore Ashley Whisonant were both named to the all-tournament team.
INJURY UPDATE: Freshman Amina Njonkou has a stress fracture in her right foot and is out up to another four weeks.
HOLLINGSWORTH A JOY IN GAMES AS A WILDCAT: After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, junior Joy Hollingsworth finally made her debut as a Wildcat in the team’s season-opening win over Loyola Marymount. In her four games at Arizona, the guard is averaging 16.4 points per game on 52 percent shooting.
THE DISH ABOUT WHISONANT: Sophomore point guard Ashley Whisonant, playing in a new position this season, is averaging 16.0 points, 6.2 assists and 2.4 steals 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. She also has a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
JONES SCORES 750TH CAREER POINT: Senior Natalie Jones scored her 750th career point in Arizona’s win over Furman on Nov. 22 in her hometown of Anchorage. The senior is averaging 14.8 points per game for the Wildcats this season.
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.
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 are 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.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior Natalie Jones ranks sixth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.764), seventh in three-point field goals attempted (275) and ninth in three-point field goals made (79).
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)
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 travels to College Park, Md., for a 1 p.m. (EST) game next Sunday, Dec. 11, at No. 9 Maryland.