COMING UP: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (7-10, 1-4 Pac-10) travels to Eugene, Ore., to take on the Oregon Ducks (9-5, 1-3 Pac-10) on Thursday, Jan 11 at 7 p.m. (PST) at McArthur Court. Arizona will try to win back-to-back Pac-10 games for the first time since 2004-05.
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.
WASHINGTON STATE RECAP: Arizona rallied to overcome an eight point halftime deficit and hung on down the stretch for a 59-57 win over Washington State on Saturday in McKale Center, despite missing eight consecutive free throws in the final 32 seconds.
Arizona led 59-53 with 50 seconds left in the game, but could not put the Cougars away from the free throw line down the stretch. WSU made two-straight layups to cut the UA lead to 59-57 with 23 seconds left, but missed its last two three-point attempts to allow Arizona to escape with the win.
Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth led the team with 18 points (7-17), and sophomore Amina Njonkou added 13 points and nine rebounds. Junior Ashley Whisonant finished with 11 points and a career-high seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Katie Appleton scored a game-high 22 points to lead Washington State.
Arizona shot 40.0 percent (20-50) from the floor in the game, 33.3 percent (4-12) from three point range, and 53.6 percent (15-28) from the free throw line. Washington State finished the game shooting 34.6 percent (21-61) from the field, and out-rebounded the Wildcats 40-39.
Arizona jumped out to a 6-0 lead at the start of the game, holding WSU scoreless for the first 3:26. The Cougars responded with two-straight treys by Appleton which sparked a 10-0 scoring run over the next 4:26 to give the Cougars a 10-6 lead. A Hollingsworth three pointer gave UA a 13-12 lead at the 9:03 mark, but WSU countered with a 15-3 run over the next 4:51 and led 27-16 with 4:14 left in the first half. The Cougars went into halftime with a 32-24 lead, as Arizona shot 33.3 percent (8-24) from the field, compared to a 38.2 percent (13-34) mark for WSU.
Arizona opened the second half with an 8-0 run to tie the game at 32-32 with 13:14 left to play. The Wildcats held Washington State scoreless in the second half for the opening 7:45, as the Cougars shot 0-of-8 from the field. Two free throws by Njonkou gave Arizona a 36-35 lead at the 11:29 mark, the Wildcats’ first second half lead in four games.
Arizona led 57-51 on a Hollingsworth layup at the 2:04 mark, and was up 59-53 with 50 seconds left in the game before going cold at the charity stripe. Washington State cut the deficit to two points, but could not capitalize on Arizona going 0-of-8 from the free throw line in the final seconds.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 63.5 points a game while shooting 39.8 percent (413-1038) from the field, 25.6 percent (67-262) from three-point range, and 66.2 percent (186-281) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have also tallied 165 steals (9.7 spg) off of 347 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 15.6 points a game while posting 5.9 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game.
ABOUT THE DUCKS: The University of Oregon Ducks enter Thursday’s matchup with a 9-5 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the Pac-10. Oregon lost both of its games in Los Angeles this past week, dropping a 71-79 decision to USC in overtime, and losing 70-77 at UCLA. Oregon is 5-2 at home so far this season. As a team, the Ducks shoot 41.7 percent (316-757) from the field, 37.7 percent (83-220) from three point range, and 70.1 percent (188-268) from the free throw line while averaging 64.5 points a game. Individually for Oregon, senior forward Eleanor Haring leads the team with 14.5 points a game. Head coach Bev Smith is in her sixth year at the helm of the Oregon program.
THE OREGON-ARIZONA SERIES: Thursday’s game will be the 44th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Ducks on the hardwood, with Oregon owning a 24-19 all-time series advantage. Last season, Arizona beat Oregon two times in three meetings, including a 64-57 win over the Ducks in the Pac-10 Tournament. Arizona has won eight of the last 10 meetings in the series, with the last two Wildcat losses being in Eugene, Ore., 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 273-192 (.587) mark at Arizona and is 598-263 (.695) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just three wins to become the 18th 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.
WIN #600: As mentioned above, head coach Joan Bonvicini stands just two wins shy of 600 in her career. If the Cats sweep this week in Oregon, she will become the 18th coach in NCAA history to accomplish the 600 win plateau.
TOUGH BEATS: Arizona has lost 10 games on the season, but their beats have come against some of the top teams in the nation. Entering Saturday's game against Washington, Arizona's 10 losses have been against teams with a combined record of 113-37 (.753), with seven of those losses being to ranked teams.
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.
COMEBACK CATS: Saturday’s win over Washington State marked the first time this season that Arizona won a game after trailing at halftime. The Wildcats were 0-7 when trailing at the half before Saturday’s come-from-behind victory.
CARDIAC CATS: So far this season, the Wildcats have succeeded in the close ball games. Arizona is 4-1 in games decided by five points or less. The Wildcats have notched two overtime wins decided by three points or less, a road win by four points, and Saturday’s thrilling 59-57 win.
LEADS ARE GOOD: Two free throws by Amina Njonkou gave Arizona a 36-35 lead at the 11:29 mark in the second half against Washington State, the Wildcats’ first second half lead in four games. Arizona last lead in the second half before that was 60-58 with 4:33 left to play in the game against Fresno State.
NOT FREE: They are simply called free throws, but in no way are they free. Arizona found that out on Saturday against Washington State as the Wildcats shot 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) from the line in the game, the second lowest mark on the season. Arizona’s inability to hit from the line almost cost them the game. The Wildcats made just two of the last 12 attempts at the charity stripe, including a 0-of-8 mark in the final 32 seconds. Nonetheless, the Wildcats escaped with a 59-57 win, thanks in part to some tough defense that prevented the Cougars from stealing a win.
FROM THE LINE: What is most interesting about Arizona’s free throw woes on Saturday is that the Wildcats were money from the line the game before against Washington. Against the Huskies, Arizona shot a season-high 84.6 percent from the line, hitting 22 free throws on 26 attempts. In the last two games, Arizona has toed the line 54 times, the highest mark this season in a two game span, and the only time this season the Wildcats have managed to get to the line more that 20 times in consecutive games. Arizona shot 68.5 percent (37-54) from the line last week, a number just above their 66.2 percent (186-281) season average.
TOUGH DEFENSE: Defense was definitely key in the Wildcats’ win over Washington State, as Arizona held WSU to a 34.4 percent (21-61) shooting in the game, the third lowest tally this season, including a 29.6 percent (8-27) mark in the second half. Arizona’s defense was able to hold Washington State scoreless for the first 3:26 of the game, and for the opening 7:45 of the second half. Against Long Beach State on Dec. 12, Arizona held the 49ers scoreless for the opening five minutes of the second half.
SHOTS?: Arizona took a season-low 50 field goal attempts against Washington State on Saturday.
BEHIND THE ARC: Arizona’s shooting from three point range on Saturday experienced both a hot and a cold. The Wildcats started the game against WSU making their first four three-point attempts. After the hot start, Arizona missed their next eight three pointers in a row, including a 0-of-6 mark in the second half. The Wildcats are shooting 25.6 percent (67-262) from behind the arc this season.
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 1-7 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
11 points: 14-3 run over 9:20 to start the second half vs. Washington State
10 points: 17-7 run over 6:24 in the first half vs. New Mexico
10 points: 13-3 run over 4:24 in the second half vs. Washington
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
20 points: 26-6 run to Arizona State over 9:26 to start the first half
16 points: 16-0 run to California over 7:45 in 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
12 points: 15-3 run to Washington State over 4:51 in 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: The Wildcats have excelled at picking the pockets of opponents this season. Arizona has tallied 165 steals (9.7 spg) on the season, which is third best in the Pac-10. UA has forced 347 opponent turnovers, converting 287 points (16.9 ppg) off of turnovers. The Wildcats have recorded double-figures in steals in nine games this season, including 10 steals against Washington last Thursday. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.4 spg, the third-best mark in the Pac-10.
SPLINTERS OUT: Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 302 bench points in 17 games (17.7 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points 14 of its 17 games this season, as the bench has accounted for 27.9 percent of the team's 1079 points. The Wildcats finished with 25 bench points against Arizona State, and 30 points off the bench (51.7 percent of the team's 58 total points) against Stanford, with 16 bench points against Washington, and 12 against Washington State.
OFFENSIVE BOARDS: So far this season, the Wildcats have done a solid job on the offensive glass. On the year, the Wildcats have grabbed 231 offensive rebounds, leading to 216 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 13.6 offensive rebounds and 12.7 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 13 of 17 games. Arizona finished with 15 offensive rebounds against Washington, and 12 against Washington State.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE: After struggling from the field last week in the Bay Area, senior Joy Hollingsworth found her groove again offensively in McKale Center against the Washington schools. Against Washington, Hollingsworth scored a career-best 31 points on 10-of-24 shooting from the field in a season-high 40 minutes of action. Her performance is the second-highest point total by a Pac-10 player so far this season, and is the highest mark by an Arizona player since Dee-Dee Wheeler scored 35 points against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 16, 2004. Against Washington State, Hollingsworth scored a team-high 18 points, including 11 points in the second half to help the Wildcats grab its comeback win over the Cougars.
For the week, Hollingsworth averaged 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in the two games, a big improvement from the week before in which she averaged just 3.5 points per game, while shooting 2-of-22 (0.09 percent) from the field, with a 0-of-9 mark from three point range.
The Seattle native is averaging a team-best 15.6 points a game (8th in the Pac-10), as she has scored 22 points or more on five different occasions. She is also averaging 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals a game, and has posted double-figure point totals in 14 out of 17 games this season. Hollingsworth is shooting 38.4 percent from the field (94-245), and averages 14 shots from the field a game.
PLAYING TOUGH: Despite a knee injury, junior point guard Ashley Whisonant gutted out a solid performance against Washington State. The Bowie, Md., native finished with 11 points, a career-high seven rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes of play, after sitting out Thursday’s game against Washington. Whisonant’s key stat of the game was her block shot on Kelly Nakejia’s three point attempt with 11 seconds left in the game, helping Arizona hang on for a two-point win. On the season, Whisonant is averaging 11.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game, including a 12.3 ppg average in Pac-10 play.
MS. CONSISTENCY: 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 9.4 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds a game. She leads the team with 53 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 48.0 percent (61-127) 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 14 of her 16 games, as she finished with seven points and seven rebounds against Washington. Against Washington State, Njonkou was a rebound away from her third double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 27 minutes of play. She also made a career-high seven free throws on a career-high 10 attempts.
In Pac-10 play, Njonkou is averaging 9.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.
HOBS IN THE PAINT: Junior Shannon Hobson has anchored the Arizona front line this season, providing solid rebounding for the Wildcats in the post. Against Washington State, the 6-foot-2 center pulled down a season-high nine rebounds in 22 minutes of play. In Pac-10 play, Hobson is averaging 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
WELCOME BACK: Sophomore guard Kelsey Burns made her first appearance to the Arizona lineup on Saturday since she played against No. 1-ranked Maryland back on Nov. 18. After a 13-game hiatus, Burns stepped in to play six minutes against the Cougars in reserve.
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, six of Arizona's 2006-07 opponents are ranked in the top-25. So far this season, Arizona is 0-7 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.
UP NEXT: Arizona will travel to Oregon State to take on the Beavers on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. (PST).