TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team (1-0) defeated Loyola Marymount (0-1) 74-66 in its season opener at McKale Center tonight. It’s the 12th time in the last 15 years that the Wildcats have won their first game of the season.
Arizona shot 42 percent from the field, 18 percent from downtown and 65 percent from the free throw line on the game, compared to the 46, 27 and 55, respectively, of Loyola Marymount. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Lions 42 to 36 and forced 26 LMU turnovers.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “It’s good to get our first win. We are just taking it one day and one game at a time.”
“I think we did a pretty good job on the boards,” she continued. “We need to learn to take care of the ball better. The press was good at times, but we still need to learn how to rotate better.”
Junior Joy Hollingsworth led all players with 21 points. Senior Natalie Jones added 17 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Ch?© Oh was one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing with 16 points and nine boards. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant rounded out the group of Wildcats in double-figure scoring with 10 points, She also nabbed a team-high four steals. Freshman Whitney Fields pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds to go with eight points.
The first half started very slow, with Arizona trailing 12-8 midway through. The Wildcats tied it at 12 apiece on a Whisonant lay-up and later built its lead to six (28-22) on an Oh lay-up with 2:50 left in the half. Arizona went into the locker room up by 32-28.
Arizona shot 42 percent form the field, 29 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line on the half, compared to the 52, 0 and 50 percent, respectively, of the Lions. Both teams pulled down 15 rebounds on the half. Jones led all players with 10 points, followed by Hollingsworth with eight. Oh and Fields each had four boards for Arizona.
Arizona held LMU to just eight points over the first 11 minutes of the second half to build its lead to 16, 52-36. The Lions later cut the Wildcat lead to 10 (67-57), but that was as close as they would get as Arizona went on to the 74-66 victory.
Arizona travels to Anchorage, Alaska, for the Great Alaska Shootout next Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 22-23. The Wildcats face Furman in the first round Tuesday at 8 p.m. (AKST).