COMING UP: The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (6-6) travels to Tempe, Ariz., to take on No. 10 Arizona State (10-1) in its Pac-10 Conference opener on Friday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. The Wildcats are 10-5 in Pac-10 openers under head coach Joan Bonvicini, including a 5-2 mark the last seven seasons.
CATCH THE ACTION: As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Paul Johnson calling the action from courtside.
FRESNO STATE RECAP: Arizona went scoreless for the final 4:50 of the game to hand Fresno State a 69-60 win on Monday night in McKale Center. The Wildcats (6-6) finished 0-for-11 from the floor and were outscored 13-0 by the Bulldogs (6-4) down the stretch.
Arizona shot a season-low 30.7 percent (23-75) from the field, including a 26.8 percent (11-41) mark in the second half, and was out-rebounded by Fresno State 54-43. The Bulldogs were 13-of-19 from the free throw line, as the Wildcats finished with a 10-17 mark from the charity stripe.
Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth posted 19 points and eight rebounds, and sophomore Amina Njonkou recorded her second double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Ashley Whisonant chipped in with nine points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Chantella Perera scored 24 points, and Tierre Wilson posted 21 points and nine rebounds for Fresno State.
Arizona and Fresno State battled close in a first half that had six ties and five lead changes. Fresno State went up 23-19 with 6:16 left to play, but Arizona rallied with a 10-3 run to close the half, and led 29-26 at halftime. The Wildcats shot 35.3 percent (12-34), and the Bulldogs posted a 31.3 percent (10-32) from the field in the first half.
Arizona opened the second half strong, jumping out to a 42-33 lead on a Hollingsworth trey with 15:29 to play. The Bulldogs responded with a 12-3 run in the next 3:23 to tie the game up at 45-45. Arizona went up 52-47 on a Njonkou layup at the 8:43 mark, but the Bulldogs tied the game again at 56-56 on two free throws by Perera with 5:47 left to play.
The Wildcats took a 60-56 lead on a layup by Njonkou with 4:50 left to play, but went scoreless after that. Arizona trailed 64-60 with 2:25 left, but finished 0-for-11 in the final minutes and could not close the gap down the stretch. Fresno State sealed the win with five free throws in the final minute.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 65.5 points a game while shooting 40.5 percent (306-756) from the field, 25.5 percent (49-192) from three-point range, and 65.8 percent (125-190) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have also tallied 118 steals (9.8 spg) off of 249 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 16.3 points a game while posting 6.0 rebounds, and 2.9 steals per game.
ABOUT THE SUN DEVILS: The Arizona State University Sun Devils enter Friday’s game ranked No. 10 in the nation with a 10-1 overall record. ASU has won its last six games by an average of 16.5 points, including a 61-45 win over Texas Tech on Monday, and are 5-1 in Wells Fargo Arena so far this season. As a team, the Sun Devils shoot 49.8 percent (332-667) from the field, 40.0 percent (38-95) from three-point range, and 70.7 percent (157-222) from the free throw line. ASU has out-rebounded the opposition 405-367, while forcing 258 turnovers for 120 steals (10.9 spg). Senior Emily Westerberg leads the team with 14.7 points a game, and sophomore Danielle Orsillo adds 11.1 points per game. Head coach Charli Turner Thorne is in her 11th season at the helm of the Sun Devil program.
THE ARIZONA STATE-ARIZONA SERIES: Friday’s game will be the 71st meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Sun Devils on the hardwood, with ASU owning a 40-30 series advantage. ASU swept the two-game series last season, beating Arizona 83-59 in McKale Center on Dec. 22, 2005, and 81-45 on Feb. 25 in Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona is 19-14 (.576) against ASU under head coach Joan Bonvicini, but is 4-9 against the Sun Devils since the 2001 season, losing four of the last five in the series.
Arizona last beat Arizona State on the road on Jan. 30, 2000, a 60-58 win, as the Wildcats have lost the last six-straight games in Wells Fargo Arena by an average of 19 points.
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 272-188 (.591) mark at Arizona and is 597-259 (.697) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just three 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.
PAC-THIS: After facing four ranked opponents in a tough non-conference schedule, things won’t get any easier for the Wildcats at the start of the Pac-10 schedule. Arizona will open Pac-10 play at No. 10 Arizona State on Dec. 22, and then travel to the Bay Area for games at No. 14 Stanford on Dec. 28, and at No. 15 California on Dec. 30. The Wildcats will play five of their first seven Pac-10 games on the road.
OFFENSIVE ROLLER COASTER: The Arizona offensive has experienced an up and a down in the last two games. On Monday night against Fresno State, the Wildcats shot a season-low 30.7 percent (23-75) from the field, including a 26.8 percent (11-41) mark in the second half. Arizona also shot 22.2 percent (4-18) mark from three-point range, and 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from the free throw line against the Bulldogs.
In the game before Monday night, a 77-39 win over Long Beach State, Arizona posted a season-best 47.8 mark (32-67) from the field, including a 51.5 percent (17-33) mark in the second half. The Wildcats’ 32 field goals in the game was the second-highest mark of the season, two away from the season-high of 34 set against Nicholls State in the opener. UA also shot 35.3 percent (6-17) from three-point range, its highest mark in five games.
NOT SO EASY: Arizona’s season-low 30.7 shooting percentage against Fresno State was a direct result of the Wildcats’ inability to make shots close to the basket. Against the Bulldogs, Arizona was 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) on layup attempts.
LATE GAME WOES: In Arizona’s last two losses, the Wildcats owned leads in the final six minutes of each game only to see them slip away. Against Fresno State, Arizona led 60-56 with 4:50 left to play in the game, but went scoreless down the stretch shooting 0-for-11 from the field, while being outscored 13-0 for a 69-60 loss. Against Utah on Dec. 9, the Wildcats led 55-54 with 5:58 left to play but shot 2-of-6 from the field the rest of the way, missed two free throw attempts, while getting outscored 12-5 down the stretch for a 66-60 loss.
SECOND HALF LAPSE: So far this season, Arizona has been slowed by inconsistent shooting in the second half. Through 12 games, the Wildcats are shooting a combined 37.6 percent (149-396) from the field in the second half, including a 21-of-97 mark (21.6 percent) from three-point range. By contrast, Arizona is shooting 43.6 percent (157-360) from the field in the first half of games, with a 29.5 percent mark (28-95) from behind the arc.
EN GUARD: Fresno State won the battle of the guards with the Wildcats. The Bulldogs’ starting guard trio of Tierre Wilson, Paige Diggs, and Chantella Perera combined for 49 points on 18-of-43 shooting (41.8 percent), good for 71 percent of the team’s offensive production. Arizona’s starting guard trio of Joy Hollingsworth, Jessica Arnold, and Ashley Whisonant combined for 33 points on 12-of-44 shooting from the field, a mark of 27.2 percent.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona is 6-3 this season when leading at halftime. However, the Wildcats are 1-2 in their last three games, each of which Arizona led at the half.
TURNOVERS: The Wildcats have won the turnover battle with the opposition as of late, forcing 51 turnovers in the last two contests, while committing 28. Against Long Beach State, the Arizona defense forced a season-high 32 turnovers, and against Fresno State on Monday, the Wildcat offense committed a season-low 12 turnovers in the loss. Arizona has scored 51 points off of turnovers in the last two games, while allowing just 20 points off of turnovers to the opposition.
FAST CATS: Arizona's ability to force the turnovers has translated into easy buckets on the other end of the court. In the last two games, Arizona has scored 34 fast-break points, while limiting the opposition to just 10 such points.
GET THE BALL: A key to Arizona’s success this season has been rebounding. The Wildcats are a perfect 4-0 when out-rebounding the opposition, but have been out-rebounded in the last four-consecutive games. On the season, Arizona has been out-rebounded 461-455 by opponents.
OFFENSIVE BOARDS: Although Arizona has lost the rebound edge recently, the Wildcats do a solid job on the offensive glass. So far this season, the Wildcats have grabbed 167 offensive rebounds, leading to 163 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 13.9 offensive rebounds and 13.6 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in nine of 12 games.
POST POWER: Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season. Arizona has scored 392 points in the paint, which is 50 percent of the team's total offensive production. The Wildcats are averaging 32.6 points in the paint each game, posting 76 points in the paint in the last two games alone, good for 55.8 percent of the team’s offensive production in that span.
MAGIC NUMBER: So far this season, Arizona is a perfect 4-0 when scoring 70 points or more in a game, including a season-high 83 points scored in its season-opening win against Nicholls State. All-time, Arizona is 176-21 (.893) when scoring 80 points or more, as the Wildcats are 129-14 (.902) under head coach Joan Bonvicini when reaching the 80 point plateau. Arizona is 1-5 this season when posting 60-69 points in a game.
RUN IT, RUN IT: So far this season, Arizona has shown the ability to put together some large scoring runs. Here is a breakdown of some of the Wildcats' major scoring-streaks:
25 points: 30-5 scoring run over 12:50 in the first half vs. Nicholls State
21 points: 30-9 run over the final 6:53 of the first half at UTEP
18 points: 23-5 run over the first 12:38 of the second half vs. Long Beach State
16 points: 16-0 run over 3:13 in the first half vs. Louisiana Tech
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
14 points: 15-1 run over 3:57 in the second half vs. Long Beach State
12 points: 12-0 run over 5:55 in first half vs. NC State
12 points: 18-6 run over the final 7:50 of the game vs. Nicholls State
10 points: 17-7 run over 6:24 in the first half vs. New Mexico
10 points: 10-0 run over 1:47 in the second half vs. GW
THE BIG, BAD RUN: Although Arizona can score points in bunches, the Wildcats have a tendency to give up large scoring runs to the opposition. Here is a look at some of the scoring runs Arizona has given up to opponents:
26 points: 31-5 scoring run to Maryland over 9:59 to start the first half
21 points: 26-5 run to Texas A&M in the final 7:31 of the first half
16 points: 21-5 run to UTEP in the final 3:37 of the game
13 points: 13-0 run to Fresno State in the final 4:33 of the game
13 points: 16-3 run to Louisiana Tech over 5:29 in the first half
12 points: 16-4 run to New Mexico over 5:21 to start the first half
11 points: 15-4 run to New Mexico over 4:51 midway through the second half
10 points: 10-0 run to Utah over 3:16 in the first half
WATCH YOUR POCKETS: Arizona has tallied 118 steals (9.8 spg) on the season off of 249 opponent turnovers, converting 237 points (19.8 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season. The Wildcats posted a season-best 15 steals against Long Beach State, and had 11 steals on Monday night against Fresno State. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.9 spg, one of the top-marks in the Pac-10.
SPLINTERS OUT: Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 212 bench points in 12 games (17.7 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points 10 of its 12 games this season, as the bench has accounted for 26.9 percent of the team's 786 points. The Wildcats finished with 29 bench points against Long Beach State, and 17 points off the pine against Fresno State on Monday.
GIVE HER THE ROCK: Senior Joy Hollingsworth has proven she can put the ball in the basket during her career, and she is continuing her scoring ways this season. The 5-foot-10 guard is averaging a team-best 16.3 points a game, as she scored 22 points or more on four different occasions. She is also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 2.9 steals a game, and has posted double-figure point totals in 11 out of 12 games this season. Hollingsworth is shooting 41.4 percent from the field (70-169), and averages 14 shots from the field a game. In her last three games, Hollingsworth is averaging 19.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.
ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant has upped her performance in the last six games, as she is averaging 12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals a game during that span. Against Long Beach State, Whisonant posted nine points, five rebounds, a season-high six assists, and a season-high five steals. Against Fresno State, she almost duplicated that performance with nine points, five rebounds, a season-high seven assists, and two steals. On the season, Whisonant is averaging 11.6 points and a team-best 4.0 assists per game.
DOUBLING UP: Sophomore Amina Njonkou has been a monster with her play in the paint this season, as she has become one of Arizona’s most consistent players. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 9.5 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds a game. She leads the team with 34 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 50.0 percent (46-92) from the field. Against Fresno State, Njonkou finished with 15 points and a career-best 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls State. So far this season, she has recorded five rebounds or more in 10 of her 12 games.
BRING IT: 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.
RANK THIS: 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.
This week, seven of Arizona's 2006-07 opponents are ranked in the top-25. So far this season, Arizona is 0-4 against ranked opposition.
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.
DECEMBER NUMBERS: Arizona is 74-32 (.698) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 60-21 (.741) 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 2-3 so far in the month of December.
UP NEXT: Arizona will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 28 when the Wildcats travel to Stanford for a 7 p.m. (PST) game at Maples Pavilion.