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012-29-2007 UCLA Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/29/2007
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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (6-6, 0-1 Pac-10) looks to close out 2007 on a winning note as the Wildcats host the UCLA Bruins (5-7, 0-1 Pac-10) on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. in McKale Center.? Arizona is looking to end a two-game skid and pick up its first Pac-10 victory of the season against a UCLA team that has lost four of its last five games.

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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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USC Recap:

USCˇ?s bench finished with 42 points, and the Women of Troy used a 14-0 second half scoring run en route to a 77-70 win over Arizona on Friday night in McKale Center in the Pac-10 season opener for both teams.

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As a team, Arizona shot 41. 7 percent (25-60) from the floor, and outrebounded USC 45-36.? USC shot 41.8 percent (28-67) from the field and finished with 11 steals off of 23 Wildcat turnovers, as the Women of Troyˇ?s bench outscored Arizonaˇ?s subs 42-6.? Arizona posted a 17-of-29 mark (58.6 percent) from the free throw line.

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Individually for the Wildcats, junior Amina Njonkou finished with a career-high 22 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore Rheya Neabors posted a career-best 17 points to go with six rebounds and five assists.? Sophomore Marie McGee added 13 points and seven rebounds, and senior Ashley Whisonant tallied eight points and seven rebounds.

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Sophomore Morghan Medlock led USC with 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, and junior Camille LeNoir added 13 points and eight assists.

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Arizona and USC played close early on, as the Wildcats jumped out to an 8-2 lead over USC at the 14:36 mark.? UA trailed 15-12 after a layup by Medlock, but the Wildcats answered with seven-straight points to take a 19-15 lead with 7:53 left in the first half.? Arizona was up 23-20 at the 4:30 mark, but USC rallied with an 11-2 run over the next 3:21 to take a 31-25 advantage with 1:58 to go before halftime.? A three by Rheya Neabors and a lay in by Njonkou with 22 seconds left cut the USC lead to 31-30 at the half.

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Arizona shot 46.4 percent (12-26) from the field in the first, holding USC to a 12-31 mark (38.7 percent).

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The Wildcats trailed USC 37-35 after a free throw by McGee at the 17:22 mark in the second half before the Women of Troy went on a 14-0 run over the next 2:04 to take a commanding 51-37 lead.? Arizona would cut the deficit to no lower than eight points for most of the second half as USC kept the Wildcat in check with its three-point shooting.? Arizona scored six-straight points to close out the game, but a 13-of-23 mark from the free throw line in the second half doomed the comeback attempt.

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About the Bruins:

The UCLA Bruins enter Sundayˇ?s action with a 5-7 overall record and a 0-1 mark in Pac-10 play.? UCLA dropped its Pac-10 opener, 59-62, at Arizona State in a nail-bitter on Friday night.? UCLA is 1-4 on the road so far this season.? As a team, the Bruins shoot 41.5 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from three point range and 65 percent from the free throw line.? Senior Lindsey Pluimer leads the squad with 14.3 points and 7.4 points a game, and freshman Nina Earl adds 10.3 points a game.? Head coach Kathy Olivier is in her 15th season at the helm of the Bruin program.

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Series Notes:

Sundayˇ?s game will be the 59th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Bruins on the hardwood, with UCLA owning a 39-19 all-time series advantage.? The Bruins escaped McKale Center with a 76-73 win over Arizona on Jan. 20, but Arizona earned a 66-63 win over the Bruins on Feb. 15 in Pauley Pavilion in the last game of the series.? Arizona has won eight of the last 13 matchups in the series.? Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats are 17-15 against UCLA.

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December Numbers: ?

Arizona is 78-37 (.678) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 64-26 (.711) mark in the month since the start of the 1995-96 season.? The Wildcats have gone undefeated in the month of December three times, while losing just one game in the month three other times.? Arizona is 4-2 so far in the month of December.

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Welcome Home:

If you donˇ?t recognize the Wildcats on the floor Sunday afternoon, there is a reason for that.? Before the Wildcatsˇ? game against USC on Friday night, Arizona went a span of 16 days since playing its last game in the friendly confines of McKale Center.? The Wildcats have been racking up those frequent flyer miles so far this season, playing seven of their first 11 games on the road.? Counting the trip to Green Bay, and with trips to Penn State, NC State, Long Beach, Calif., and Albuquerque under their belts, the Wildcats have racked up 13,698 round trip travel miles.? Arizona will also head up to Oregon next week.? Weˇ?ll keep you posted on when the Wildcats earn their free round trip to anywhere in the United States.? Arizona is 3-1 at home so far this season, losing only to Middle Tennessee State.

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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 283-209 (.575) mark at Arizona and is 608-280(.685) 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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Road Warriors:

With a wins against Long Beach State and New Mexico, the Wildcats managed to win two-straight road games for the first time since the 2004-05 season.? Arizona last won two-straight on the road in December of 2004 with wins at Chicago State and Washington.?

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Home Wreckers:

Arizona went into New Mexicoˇ?s Pit and did something most visiting teams canˇ?t do: win.? The Wildcats snapped the Lobosˇ? 13-game home winning streak with their 44-36 win, as New Mexico was 7-0 on the season before Saturdayˇ?s game.

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Slow Starts:

Through 12 games, Arizona is getting outscored 401-335 by opponents in the first half, and is 3-6 when trailing at the half.? When leading at the half, Arizona is 3-0, as the Wildcats are outscoring the opposition 433-421 in the second half.

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Almost History:

Arizonaˇ?s 44-36 win over New Mexico came very close to some intriguing historical proportions.? Arizonaˇ?s 44 points in the win was the programˇ?s lowest point total in a victory since beating Utah, 46-36, on Jan. 17 1974.? Arizonaˇ?s school low for a point total in a win is 36 in a win (36-30) over Northern Arizona on Feb. 10, 1973.

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Just How Low?:

New Mexicoˇ?s 22.8 percent shooting (13-57) from the field on Saturday came anemically close to an Arizona opponent school record low mark for shooting percentage in a game.? The lowest opponent shooting percentage against Arizona in school history is 19.4 (12-62) percent by Rice on Nov. 14, 2005.? However, Arizona gave up an opponent season-high 56.4 percent (31-55) mark to UW-Green Bay in the next game.

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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.? Arizona has made it to the line 227 times (18.9 free throw attempts per game), but is only shooting 64.8 percent (147-227) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting 70.1 percent (141-201) from the line against the Cats.?

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Make Those Free Throws:

Free throw shooting was a major factor in Arizonaˇ?s loss against USC on Friday night.? The Wildcats shot 17-of-29 from the line (58.6 percent) against the Women of Troy, including a 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) mark in the second half.? Poor shooting from the line kept Arizona from making legitimate comeback attempt at the end of the game, as the Wildcats scored five-straight points in the final 22 seconds of the game to cut the deficit to seven points.

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Bombs Away:

Arizona surrendered a season-high 13 three point field goals to USC on Friday night.? The Women of Troy hit 13 threes on 27 attempts (48.1 percent), as those 13 makes equaled a USC school record.

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Bench Help:

With a squad of eight players, Arizona is looking for contributions from all of its players.? The Wildcatsˇ? lack of depth showed against USC on Friday night as USCˇ?s reserves outscored Arizonaˇ?s bench 42-6.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

The Wildcats can put on some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through 12 games, Arizona has forced 251 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 20.5 turnovers a game.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 115 steals so far on the season for a 9.6 steals per game average.? Arizona has racked up 101 steals in its last 10 games (10.1 spg), including a season-high 14 against Portland, NC State and NAU.? Arizona ranks second in the Pac-10 in the steals department.

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Paint Job:

So far, Arizona has been doing a solid job scoring in the paint.? Through 12 games, the Wildcats have posted 431 points in the paint, which accounts for 55 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (783), and average35.9 points per game down low.? In its last five games, Arizona has outscored the opposition 179-94 in the paint, including a 38-22 advantage down low against USC on Friday night.

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Lotta Action:

So far, a lot of Wildcats are getting a lot of action.? Through nine games, 10 Wildcats are averaging double figures in playing time, led by senior Ashley Whisonantˇ?s 36.5 minutes per game average.

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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.? So far this season, Whisonant has played at an All-Pac-10 level.? The Bowie, Md., native is averaging a team-high 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game while snagging 1.9 steals a contest.? She is also averaging a team-high 36.5 minutes per contest.? Whisonant ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in scoring average, first in assists per game, fifth in steals per game, and first in minutes per game.? Against USC, Whisonant finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

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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 76 points in the first three games, Whisonant moved past Kim Conway (1,060 points, 1990-94) for the No. 13 spot on the all-time scoring list.? Now standing at 1,164 career points (103 games), Whisonantˇ?s eight points against New Mexico allowed her to pass Yolanda Turner (1984-87) in the No. 12 position, and passed former teammate Natalie Jones (1,149 points, 2003-06) for sole possession the No. 11 spot.? With 27 more points, Whisonant will tie Lisa Griffith (1,199 points, 1997-2000) for the No. 10 spot in school history.

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Ms. 100:

Senior Ashley Whisonant has been a constant in the Arizona lineup ever since her freshman season, and she is one pace to be one of Arizonaˇ?s all-time leaders in games played.? She played in her 100th career game against NAU (Dec. 6), and is on pace to finish her career with 123 games played, a figure that will rank No. 3 all-time in school history.

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Looking For a Dime:

With each dime Ashley Whisonant dishes out, she is moving to the top of the line on Arizonaˇ?s all-time career assists list.? With 322 career assists, Whisonant needs 12 more to claim the No. 10 spot in school history.? With a 4.8 assists per game average, Whisonant is on pace to finish with 139 assists this season, the ninth-best mark in school history.

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Narbonne ˇ?s Finest:

Freshman Ify Ibekwe comes from a family of distinguished athletes and she is trying to prove that she is the best yet.? Before getting hit in the eye during last Fridayˇ?s practice, the 6-foot-1 Carson, Calif., native from Narbonne HS had been a spark on the court in the first nine games, averaging 11.6 points on 61.6 percent shooting (45-73), the second-best mark in the Pac-10, and a team-high 7.8 rebounds a game in just 20.3 minutes a game.? In her last six games, Ibekwe is averaging a team-high 13.8 points and 10.0 rebounds a game, numbers highlighted by performances against Portland and Middle Tennessee at home, and a homecoming game at Long Beach State.? Against Portland, Ibekwe straight went off against the Pilots.? She finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go with 13 rebounds for her first career double-double.? Against the Middle Tennessee, Ibekwe finished with a team-high 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field to go with seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.? In her first career start against NAU, Ibekwe finished with seven points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals in 22 minutes of action.? Against the 49ers, Ibekwe finished with a game-high 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high four blocked shots before a hometown crowd.?

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In the Books:

Ify Ibekweˇ?s performance against Middle Tennessee was one for the history books, as her 22 points came off of a scorching 10-of-11 shooting mark from the field.? Her .909 shooting percentage is the second-best single game performance in school history, matching Shawn Coderˇ?s 10-of-11 mark against Cal State Northridge on Dec. 13, 1991.

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Wonˇ?t you be my Neabor?:

Sophomore Rheya Neabors has been stepping up for the Wildcats on the outside perimeter.? Against NAU, the 6-foot-1 Pomona, Calif., native had a career-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds, two assists, and a block and a steal in 35 minutes of action.? She put up a career-best 10 three pointers, hitting a career-high five three point field goals.? Against Long Beach State, Neabors had nine points and five rebounds in a career-high 37 minutes of actions.? Against USC, Neabors finished with a career-best 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds and a career-high five assists.? On the season, she is averaging 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds a game.

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Stepping Up her Game:

Sophomore Marie McGee is playing a more vital role in the Arizona lineup this season, as the Las Cruces, N.M., native earned her first career start against NAU.? She responded by finishing with six points and two steals, hitting a career-best two three pointers.? Against USC, McGee had 13 points a career-high seven rebounds and a career-high three assists.? On the season, McGee is averaging 5.3 points and 2.8 rebounds a game in 21.0 minutes of action per contest.? As a starter, she is averaging 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds a game.

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Lucky Charm?:

Arizona is 4-2 with Marie McGee in the starting lineup.

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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.? The 6-foot-1 Cameroon native has posted double-figures in points in the last six-straight games, and is averaging 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game over that span.? Against NAU, she finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds and a career-best five steals.? Against Long Beach State, she had her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.? Versus Boise State, Njonkou finished with 10 points and three rebounds, and had 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds in a career-high 34 minutes of action against New Mexico.? Against UW-Green Bay, Njonkou posted a career-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds in a career-high 35 minutes of action, sinking a career-best eight free throws on 11 attempts. ?Against USC on Friday night, Njonkou finished with a career-best 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting and a season-high 12 rebounds.? She was also 8-of-10 from the free throw line. On the season, Njonkou is posting 12.2 points and 6.7 rebounds a game while shooting 51.0 percent (52-102) from the field.

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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 hit the road again for a trip to Oregon State on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. in Gill Coliseum.

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