COMING UP: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (10-18, 4-12 Pac-10) looks for its first Pac-10 sweep of the season when the Wildcats face USC (15-10, 9-6 Pac-10) on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. (PST) in the Galen Center. Arizona will try to win back-to-back Pac-10 games from the first time since the 2004-05 season.
CATCH THE ACTION: Saturday’s game will be televised live by Fox Sports Net with Bill Macdonald and Tracy Warren calling the action from courtside.
As always, Arizona women's basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Paul Johnson calling the action from courtside.
UCLA RECAP: Sophomore Malia O’Neal posted career highs of 12 points and 11 assists, and came up with a crucial steal at the end of the game to give Arizona a 66-63 win over the Bruins on Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion.
O’Neal’s double-double led the way for Arizona, as she also posted a career-high five rebounds. Senior Joy Hollingsworth added 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, and junior Ashley Whisonant posted 15 points and five assists off the bench.
Senior Noelle Quinn led UCLA with 17, five rebounds and five assists.
Arizona shot a season-high 50.0 percent from the field (26-52) in the game, and held UCLA to a 43.6 percent (24-55) shooting percentage. The Bruins out-rebounded Arizona 35-28.
Arizona started the game out hot, hitting three of its first four shots, including a 2-of-3 mark from three point range to take a 8-2 lead at the 17:54 mark. UA went up 15-11 on a three by Jessica Arnold at the 12:46 mark, as the Wildcats started off 6-of-10 from the field. UCLA took its first lead of the game, 17-15, at the 9:03 mark on a lay in by Chinyere Ibekwe.
Arizona scored six-straight points to go up 21-17 on a layup by O’Neal with 6:59 left in the first, and extended its lead to 27-21 on a lay in by Hollingsworth at the 5:17 mark. Arizona finished the half shooting 0-of-7 from the field but held on to lead 32-30 at the half. The Wildcats shot 41.7 percent (10-24) from the field in the first half, as UCLA shot 41.9 percent (13-31) from the field.
Hollingsworth hit a trey and a jumper to give Arizona a 37-32 lead at the 17:26 mark of the second half. UCLA retook the lead at 40-39 at the 13:57 mark on a jumper by Tierra Henderson. UCLA took a 50-45 lead at the 7:59 mark on a three by Shaina Zaidi, but the Wildcats responded with seven-straight points on a jumper by Arnold to go up 52-50 with 6:08 left in the game. A three by Arnold with 3:46 gave Arizona a 60-54 lead.
UCLA cut the Arizona lead to 60-59, but a lay in by Whisonant with 1:23 left put the Wildcats up 62-59. Rhaya Neabors put in a lay up with 41 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 64-59 advantage.
With Arizona leading 64-61 with 28.7 seconds left, Hollingsworth turned the ball over on a five-second inbound violation. Quinn then hit a jumper with 17.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 64-63.
With 8.8 seconds, Whisonant missed the first free throw on a one-and-one, UCLA rebounded and pushed the ball up court, but O’Neal came up with a steal, and hit a free throw with 0.8 seconds left to ice the win for Arizona.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 64.3 points a game while shooting 40.0 percent (678-1696) from the field, 27.3 percent (126-461) from three-point range, and 68.7 percent (318-463) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have also tallied 244 steals (8.71 spg), third-best in the Pac-10, off of 542 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 16.4 points a game (6th in the Pac-10) while posting 5.3 rebounds, and 2.18 steals per game (third in the Pac-10).
ABOUT THE WOMEN OF TROY: The USC Women of Troy enter Saturday’s game with a 15-10 overall record and a 9-6 mark in the Pac-10. USC had won four of its last five games, and nine of its last 11 before falling to Arizona State, 68-57, on Thursday night. USC is 10-4 at home so far this season. As a team, USC shoots 39.6 percent (602-1520) from the field, 30.0 percent (139-463) from three point range, and 70.4 percent (312-443) from the free throw line while averaging 66.2 points a game. Individually for the Women of Troy, senior Shay Murphy leads the team with 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Head coach Mark Trakh is in his third season at the helm of the USC program.
THE USC-ARIZONA SERIES: Saturday’s game will be the 59th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Women of Troy on the hardwood, with USC owning a 42-16 all-time series advantage. USC has won the last four straight in the series, and six of the last seven, including a 77-68 win over Arizona on Jan. 18 in McKale Center. Since 1996, Arizona leads the series by a mark of 14-10.
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 16 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 276-200 (.580) mark at Arizona and is 601-271 (.689) in 28 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.
WIN #600: Head coach Joan Bonvicini earned her 600th career victory on Thursday, Feb. 8, as the Wildcats defeated Oregon State, 65-61. Bonvicini became the 18th women's basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to accomplish the 600-win plateau.
LOVE THOSE THURSDAYS: Although Arizona started the season 0-5 when playing games on Thursday, the Wildcats have won three-straight games. Arizona knocked off Washington State on the road on Feb. 1, beat Oregon State on Feb. 8 in McKale Center, and topped UCLA, 66-63, Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion Arizona had not started a Pac-10 week with three-straight Thursday wins since February of 2005.
SATURDAY STRUGGLES: So far this season, Arizona is 1-8 on games played on Saturday. The Wildcats’ lone Saturday win was against Washington State (59-57) on Jan. 6 in McKale Center.
ROAD SWEEPS: The Wildcats have a chance to win back-to-back Pac-10 games for the first time this season with a victory over USC on Saturday. Arizona has not swept a Pac-10 series on the road since beating Washington and Washington State in December of 2004.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona is 8-4 this season when leading at halftime. However, Arizona is 2-13 when trailing at the half. The Wildcats’ 32-30 halftime lead at UCLA translated into a 66-63 win over the Bruins.
PAY BACK: In the first meeting between Arizona and USC on Jan. 18, the Wildcats owned a 34-26 halftime lead over the Women of Troy. That lead vanished as USC outscored Arizona 51-34 in the second half behind Shay Murphy’s 30 points and 10 rebounds for a 77-68 come-back win.
CARDIAC CATS: So far this season, the Wildcats have succeeded in the close ball games. Arizona is 7-3 in games decided by five points or less. Arizona held on to top UCLA by three points, 66-63 on Thursday, as four of the Wildcats’ last five games have been decided by four points or less, with Arizona owning 3-1 record in those ball games.
MAGIC NUMBER: On the season, Arizona is 5-3 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 2-11 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: 14-2 run over 7:39 in the first half vs. Oregon
12 points: 16-4 run over 5:16 in the second half vs. Stanford
12 points: 17-5 run over 3:30 in the second half vs. UCLA
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
10 points: 10-0 run over 3:54 in the first half vs. USC
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
23 points: 33-10 run to Washington over 10:12 in the second half
21 points: 26-5 run to Texas A&M in the final 7:31 of the first half
20 points: 26-6 run at Arizona State over 9:26 to start the first half
19 points: 27-8 run to Stanford over 7:41 in 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
14 points: 17-3 run at Oregon over 4:28 in the first half
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: 14-2 run to USC over 7:14 in the first half
12 points: 13-1 run at Oregon over 5:54 in the second 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: 11-0 run to California over 3:06 in the first half
11 points: 16-5 run to USC over 4:04 in the second half
11 points: 15-4 run to USC in the final 4:23 of the game
11 points: 15-4 run to New Mexico over 4:51 midway through the second half
10 points: 14-4 run to Oregon in the opening 4:50
10 points: 10-0 run to Utah over 3:16 in the first half
10 points: 10-0 run to UCLA over the final 2:34 of the first half
WATCH YOUR POCKETS: The Wildcats have excelled at picking the pockets of opponents this season. Arizona has tallied 244 steals (8.71 spg) on the year, which is third best in the Pac-10. UA has also forced 542 opponent turnovers. The Wildcats have recorded double-figures in steals in 12 games this season, but has failed to post double-figures in steals in the last three-straight games, and six of the last seven. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.18 spg, the third-best mark in the Pac-10.
OFFENSIVE BOARDS: So far this season, the Wildcats have done a solid job on the offensive glass. On the year, the Wildcats have grabbed 368 offensive rebounds. Arizona has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 21 of 28 games this season. Arizona has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 10 of the last 13 games, and 13 of the last 17 games, but finished with just six offensive boards on Thursday night, its lowest output in 13 games. Arizona is out-rebounded opponents on the offensive glass 368-330 this season.
BALL CONTROL: Arizona finished with 28 total turnovers last week against the Oregon schools, its lowest number for turnovers in a two-game span this season. Defensively, the Wildcats forced 37 turnovers on the Ducks and the Beavers. In Thursday nights game, Arizona committed 18 turnovers while forcing 16 on the Bruins.
A RARITY: Thursday night was the first game this season Arizona has won despite turnover the ball more than its opponent. The Wildcats were 0-9 before their win over the Bruins when finishing with more turnovers than the opposition.
POST UP: Arizona's post play on the offensive end has stepped it up lately, as the Wildcats have scored 102 of its 186 (54.8 percent) in the last three games inside the paint. The Wildcats posted 40 of its 65 points (61.5 percent) in the paint against Oregon State, and finished with 30 of its 55 points (54.5 percent) inside the paint against Oregon last week. Arizona scored a total of 40 points in the paint in its last two games combined before playing the Beavers, and hadn't scored 40 points in the paint since beating Long Beach State on Dec. 12, a span of 16 games.
On Thursday, Arizona outscored UCLA 32-24 in the paint.
ON TARGET: The Wildcats finished Thursday’s game with a 50 percent (26-52) shooting percentage from the field, a season high. Arizona was helped by a 61.9 percent (13-21) mark from the field in the second half. It was the first time this season the Wildcats have shot 50 percent from the floor. The last time Arizona shot 50 percent from the field before Thursday was last season on Jan. 26, 2006 at Washington, a span of 37 games.
LEADING LATE: The Wildcats are 8-1 this season when leading with one minute left in the game.
GIVE ME MO: Sophomore guard Malia O’Neal had a breakout performance against UCLA on Thursday night. The Seattle native posted career-highs of 12 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds to lead the Wildcats to the win. She shot 4-of-5 from the field, including a 2-of-3 mark from three point range, and was 2-for-2 at the charity stripe, as her free throws sealed the win for UA at the end of the game. Her 11 dimes countered just two turnovers in 32 minutes of play, as she recorded her first career double-double.
GIVE HER THE ROCK: Senior Joy Hollingsworth was powered the Arizona offense the entire season. So far, the Seattle native is averaging a team-best 16.4 points a game (6th in the Pac-10), as she has scored 20 points or more on 11 different occasions. She is also averaging 5.3 rebounds and 2.18 steals a game (third in the Pac-10), and has posted double-figure point totals in 23 out of 28 games this season. She finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field on Thursday against UCLA.
ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant has provided the Wildcats with a much needed spark off the bench. In the last four games coming off the bench, Whisonant is averaging 15.3 points and 3.75 assists a game. She posted 15 points and five assists against the Bruins. On the year, Whisonant is averaging 11.3 points and 3.64 assists a game.
BENCH HELP: Powered by the play of Whisonant, Arizona has tallied 84 bench points in the last three games, an average of 28 bench points per game. The bench has accounted for 45.2 percent of the scoring output for the Wildcats the last three games. Arizona scored 30 bench points against UCLA on Saturday.
PICKING UP THE PACE: Senior guard Linda Pace's stats might not jump out from the box score, but her play has been pivotal for the Wildcats' success as of late. Arizona is 3-2 with Pace in the starting lineup, as she has helped solidify the Wildcats' post play the last five games. Last Thursday, Pace finished with four points, a career-high six rebounds and a steal in 19 minutes of playing time against the Beavers. Against the Ducks last Saturday, Pace posted a season-high nine points to go with four rebounds and three steals. In her last five games as a starter, Pace is averaging 3.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals a game in 22.8 minutes of action.
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 8.9 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds a game. Njonkou leads the team with 88 offensive rebounds (second in the Pac-10), and is shooting 46.9 percent (91-194) from the field. She leads the team with four double-doubles. 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.
In the first game against USC, Njonkou posted her third double-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high four assists. So far this season, she has recorded five rebounds or more in 24 of her 28 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, six of Arizona's 2006-07 opponents are ranked in the top-25. So far this season, Arizona is 0-9 against ranked opposition.
CATS PICKED TO FINISH SEVENTH IN THE 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 play its regular season finale on Saturday, Feb. 24 when the Wildcats host archrival Arizona State at 2 p.m. in McKale Center.