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012-3-2007 NAU Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/03/2007
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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (2-4) returns to action after an 11 day hiatus to host Northern Arizona (4-4) on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.? The Wildcats will match up against the Lumberjacks for the first time in four years.

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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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Middle Tennessee Recap:

Freshman Ify Ibekwe finished with 22 points, but Arizona could not stop a late 10-2 second half scoring run by Middle Tennessee, falling to the Blue Raiders, 70-60, on Sunday afternoon in McKale Center.?

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As a team, Arizona shot 55.6 percent (25-45) from the field, including a blistering 68.8 percent (11-16) mark in the first half, and outrebounded MTSU 28-27.? The Blue Raiders shot 43.3 percent (26-60) from the field, with a 56 percent mark (14-25) in the second half, and finished with eight steals off of 20 Arizona turnovers.

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Ibekwe led the Wildcats with a career-high 22 points (16 in the second half) on 10-of-11 shooting from the field, the second-best shooting percentage in school history, to go with seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.? Sophomores Rhaya and Rheya Neabors added 10 points apiece, and senior Ashley Whisonant finished with eight points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

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Senior Amber Holt led Middle Tennessee with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field.

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Arizona and Middle Tennessee played close the entire first half as the teams combined for six ties and six lead changes.? The Wildcats held a 30-27 lead over the Blue Raiders at the 3:04 mark, but a layup by Starr Orr at the 2:30 mark, and a three by Brandi Brown with 1:29 left gave MTSU a 32-30 lead at halftime.? Arizona shot 68.8 percent (11-16) in the first half, holding MTSU to a 34.3 percent mark (12-35), but the Blue Raiders sank five three pointers.

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Middle Tennessee expanded its slim lead to six points early on in the second half, but Arizona stayed within striking distance much of the half and trailed 46-44 after a layup by Ibekwe with 8:46 left on the clock.? The Blue Raiders then scored seven-straight points which translated into 10-2 scoring run over the next 1:59 to take a commanding 56-46 advantage.? The Wildcats battled to cut the deficit to 63-58 with 1:57 left in the game, but the Blue Raiders hit 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch to hold off an Arizona comeback attempt.

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About the Lumberjacks:

The Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks enter Thursdayˇ?s game with a 4-4 overall mark, having won two of their last three meetings.? NAU is coming off a 71-59 win over Loyola Marymount on Dec. 2.? As a team, NAU shoots 37.5 percent (169-451) from the field, 27.8 percent (25-90) from three point range and 69.8 percent (150-215) from the free throw line.? The Lumberjacks are led by senior Laura Dinkins 16.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, and junior Ashley Ingle adds 13.6 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds a game.? Head coach Laurie Kelly is in her fifth season at the helm of the Lumberjack program.

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Series Notes:

Thursdayˇ?s game marks the 35th meeting between Arizona and Northern Arizona on the hardwood, with the Wildcats owning a 28-6 series advantage.? These two teams last played on Nov. 22, 2003 in McKale Center, an 89-67 Wildcat win.? Arizona has won the last six contests in the series by an average of 21 points.? The Lumberjacksˇ? last win in the series came in 1988 in Flagstaff, as Arizona has not lost at home to NAU since 1978.

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Welcome Back!:

In case you havenˇ?t noticed, it has been awhile since the Wildcats last took the court.? Arizonaˇ?s game on Thursday will be its first action since playing Middle Tennessee on Nov. 25, a span of 11 days.? This is Arizonaˇ?s longest regular season break from action since the 1998-99 season when the Wildcats also went 11 days without a game.? In that season, Arizona beat San Diego State 76-69 on Nov. 23 and returned to action on Dec. 4 to beat Sam Houston State, 85-72.

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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 279-207 (.574) mark at Arizona and is 604-278 (.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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Peaks and Valleys:

The Wildcats are shooting the ball at a solid 42.5 percent from the field, but their performances have been shadowed by inconsistency.? After shooting a blistering 54.5 percent mark (30-55) from the field against Portland, the Wildcats went from a season-high to a season low against NC State.? Arizona shot a dismal 27.4 percent (17-62) against the Wolfpack, including a 23.1 percent mark (3-13) from three point range.? The Wildcats then followed that up with a season-best 55.6 percent mark from the field, hitting on 25-of-45 shots from the field against Middle Tennessee in their last outing.

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Slow Starts:

Through six games, Arizona is getting outscored 219-176 by opponents in the first half.? The Wildcats have held only one halftime lead so far this season, a 41-26 advantage over Portland which translated into a 78-71 win.

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Needs Improvement:

So far, Arizona has yet to find its touch from behind the three point line.? Through six games, Arizona has hit 15-of-70 three pointers for a 21.4 percent clip.? Opponents, on the other hand, are putting up a 39.5 percent mark (51-129) from three point land on the Wildcats.?

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0-from-Three:

Against Middle Tennessee, Arizona failed to hit a three point basket as the Wildcats went 0-of-6 from behind the arc.? Arizonaˇ?s 0 three point field goals marked the first time in three seasons that the Wildcats had failed to hit a three pointer in a game.? The last time Arizona went 0-for from three point range was at Ohio State on Nov. 17, 2004 (L, 45-78), a span of 96 games.

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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 127 times (21 free throw attempts per game), but is only shooting 66.1 percent (84-127) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting a solid 72.2 percent (91-126) from the line against the Cats.? Against Middle Tennessee, Arizona was 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) from the line.

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What do you know about Pressure?:

The Wildcats can put some pressure defense, and opponents have shown they canˇ?t handle it.? Through six games, Arizona has forced 131 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 21.8 turnovers a game.? The Wildcats, on the other hand, have turned the ball over 120 times, and own a +1.8 turnover margin.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 61 steals so far on the season for a 10.2 steals per game average.? Arizona has racked up 45 steals in its last four games (11.3 spg), including a season-high 14 against Portland and NC State.? Arizona ranks third 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 six games, the Wildcats have posted 222 points in the paint, which accounts for 54.5 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (407).? Arizona is averaging 37 points per game in the paint, and outscored Middle Tennessee 44-28 in the paint in its last outing.

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Lotta Action:

So far, a lot of Wildcats are getting a lot of action.? Through six games, 10 Wildcats are averaging double figures in playing time, led by senior Ashley Whisonantˇ?s 37.3 minutes per game average.

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Splinters Out:

Arizonaˇ?s bench has given the Wildcats a major boost on the court.? The UA bench has scored in double figures in each game so far, including a season-best 42 points against Portland, and had 24 bench points against Middle Tennessee led by Ify Ibekweˇ?s 22 points.? Arizonaˇ?s reserves have accounted for 146 points for a 24.3 ppg average, which is also 35.9 percent of the teamˇ?s total output.?

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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-American level.? The Bowie, Md., native is averaging 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists a game while snagging 2.3 steals a contest.? She is also averaging a team-high 37.3 minutes per contest.? Whisonant ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in points scored, first in assists per game, fourth in steals per game, and first in minutes per game.

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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 1,100 career points (99 games), Whisonant needs 44 points to catch Yolanda Turner (1984-87) for the No. 12 position.

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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.? When she suits up in her next contest, she will make her 100th appearance as a Wildcat, 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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Ms. Wildcat:

Freshman Tasha Dickey, simply put, was born to be a Wildcat.? The daughter of two former Arizona athletes, Dickey has shown her tremendous athletic ability on the court.? In the first six games, Dickey is averaging 8.2 points on 18-of-40 shooting (45 percent), 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game.

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Impressive Start:

Freshman Ify Ibekwe comes from a family of distinguished athletes and she is trying to prove that she is the best yet.? The 6-foot-1 Carson, Calif., native from Narbonne HS has been a spark on the court in the first six games, averaging 11.7 points on 68.9 percent shooting (31-45), the second-best mark in the Pac-10, and a team-high 5.8 rebounds a game in just 17.2 minutes a game.? In her last three games, Ibekwe is averaging a team-high 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, numbers highlighted by performances against Portland and Middle Tennessee at home.? 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.

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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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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 will next travel to Long Beach, Calif., for a game at Long Beach State on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. (PST).

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