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Women's Basketball Opens Four-Game Home Stand Thursday vs. USC
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/16/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (7-12, 1-6 Pac-10) opens a season long four-game home stand against USC (10-7, 4-3 Pac-10) on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.  The Wildcats look to snap a two-game skid and halt the Women of Troy four-game winning streak.

 

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.

 

Live statistics and live video feeds are available at Arizona athletics department official website: arizonaathletics.com.

 

OREGON STATE RECAP: Arizona’s second half rally fell short, as the Wildcats could not overcome a slow first half, dropping a 69-62 decision at Oregon State on Saturday night in Gill Coliseum. 

 

Arizona shot 40.6 percent (26-64) from the field in the game, as Oregon State shot 49.0 percent (24-49).  Oregon State out-rebounded Arizona 36-32, but the Wildcats had a season-high 21 assists and a season-low 12 turnovers.  Arizona made four free throws on a season-low five attempts.

 

Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth led the way with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists.  Junior Jessica Arnold added 16 points, and freshman Rhaya Neabors posted career-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds.  Junior Ashley Whisonant added six points and a career-high 11 assists.

 

For Oregon State, Casey Nash posted a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Mercedes Fox-Griffin tallied a double-double with 13 points and 15 assists.

 

Both teams got out to slow starts, as a layup by Hollingsworth tied the game at 4-4 at the 14:02 mark.  The Wildcats started the game out shooting 2-of-13 from the field with five turnovers.  The Beavers then used an 11-2 scoring run in the next 2:59 to take a 15-6 lead at the 11:03 mark. 

 

OSU extended its lead to 23-14 on a trey by Nash with 4:28 left to play in the first.  Nash hit a jumper in the paint with eight seconds on the clock to put OSU up 31-21, but Arnold hit a three as time expired to cut the deficit to 31-24 at the half.  Arizona shot 33.3 percent (10-30) from the field in the first, with a 1-of-8 mark from behind the arc.  OSU shot 37.0 (10-27) from the field before halftime, as Nash posted 13 points and nine rebounds.

 

Arizona started the second half off hot, using a quick 6-0 run on 3-of-4 shooting from the field to cut the Beaver lead to 31-30 at the 17:33 mark.  OSU responded with a 6-0 run of its own in the next 1:24 to go up 37-30.  Arizona cut the Beaver lead to 39-35 on a jumper by Hollingsworth at the 14:54 mark, but OSU score six-straight points to take a 45-35 lead with 13:34 left to play. 

 

The Wildcats trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, but used three-straight baskets cut the lead to 59-54 with 5:10 left.  Nash then converted on a three-point play to give OSU a 62-54 advantage.  A three by Neabors at the 1:10 mark cut the Beaver lead to 64-59 with 1:10 left to play.  After two free throws by OSU’s Judie Lomax, Arnold hit a three to cut the 66-62 with 1:01 left.  Arizona would not get any closer, as the Beavers sealed the win with free throws down the stretch.  Arizona shot 47.1 percent (16-34) from the field in the second half, but could not match OSU’s mark of 63.6 percent (14-22).

 

A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 63.9 points a game while shooting 40.1 percent (465-1159) from the field, 26.2 percent (77-294) from three-point range, and 66.3 percent (207-312) from the free throw line.  The Wildcats have also tallied 180 steals (9.5 spg), third-best in the Pac-10, off of 381 opponent turnovers.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 16.0 points a game (6th in the Pac-10) while posting 6.0 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game (2nd in the Pac-10).

 

ABOUT THE WOMEN OF TROY: The University of Southern California Women of Troy enter Thursday’s matchup with a 10-7 overall record, a 4-3 Pac-10 mark, and riding a season-best four-game winning streak.  USC dropped its first three Pac-10 games by an average of 13.6 points, but has won its last four straight in conference play by an average of 6.3 points.  USC defeated UCLA in Pauley Pavilion, 75-72, on Saturday to improve its road record to 3-4 overall, and 2-1 in the Pac-10.  As a team, USC shoots 39.9 percent (410-1028) from the field, 29.2 percent (92-315) from three point range, and 74.7 percent (219-293) from the free throw line while averaging 66.5 points a game.  Individually, senior guard Shay Murphy is leading the team with 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, marks that rank second and third in the Pac-10 respectively.  Senior center Chloe Kerr adds 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.82 blocks per game.  Head coach Mark Trakh is in his third season at the helm of the USC program.

 

THE USC-ARIZONA SERIES: Thursday’s game will be the 58th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Women of Troy on the hardwood, with USC owning a 41-16 all-time series advantage.  USC has won the last three straight in the series, and five of the last six.  Last season, USC escaped with a 73-72 win over Arizona on Feb. 2, 2006 in McKale Center.  Since 1996, Arizona leads the series by a mark of 14-9.

 

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 273-194 (.585) mark at Arizona and is 598-265 (.693) 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 beat USC and UCLA at home this week, she will become the 18th coach in NCAA history to accomplish the 600 win plateau.

 

DO WE PLAY HERE?: Arizona will finally enjoy the comforts of playing at home in McKale Center, as the Wildcats open a season long four-game home stand on Thursday against USC.  Arizona has played 11 of its first 19 games away from McKale Center, including five of its last seven Pac-10 games on the road.

 

TOUGH BEATS: Arizona has lost 12 games on the season, but its beats have come against some of the top teams in the nation.  Entering Saturday's game against Washington, Arizona's 12 losses have been against teams with a combined record of 148-55 (.729), with seven of those losses being to ranked teams.

 

According to collegerpi.com, Arizona’s schedule is ranked as the ninth-toughest in the nation.

 

HOME AGAINST THE PAC: Arizona has been very successful at home in McKale Center, especially during Pac-10 Conference play.  Since the 1995-96 season, Arizona is 75-26 (.743) against Pac-10 teams at home, including a 65-20 mark (.765) since the 1997-98 season.  The Wildcats once owned a 20-game winning streak against the Pac-10 at home, which included two undefeated (9-0) seasons in 2003 and 2004.  The Wildcats went 2-7 at home against Pac-10 teams last season, and are 1-1 at home so far this season.

 

GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona is 6-3 this season when leading at halftime. However, the Wildcats are 1-2 in the last three games when leading at the half.

 

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 a thrilling 59-57 win over Washington State.

 

MAGIC NUMBER: So far this season, Arizona is 4-1 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 1-8 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 at 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

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: 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: 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 180 steals (9.5 spg) on the year, which is third best in the Pac-10. UA has forced 381 opponent turnovers, converting 323 points (17.9 ppg) off of turnovers.  The Wildcats have recorded double-figures in steals in 10 games this season, including 11 steals against Oregon last Thursday.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.4 spg, the second-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 258 offensive rebounds, leading to 238 second-chance points.  Arizona is averaging 13.6 offensive rebounds and 12.5 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 15 of 19 games.  Arizona has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds the last four consecutive games, and seven of the last eight games, including 12 against Oregon State on Saturday.

 

BIG POINTS: Arizona went the first 12 games of the season without giving up 80 points to an opponent.  In the last seven games, the Wildcats have given up 80 or more points four times, including 86 points to Oregon last Thursday.  Arizona is 0-4 when giving up 80 points or more, and 0-6 when allowing 70 points or more in a game to the opposition.

 

NO HARM, NO FOUL: Arizona experienced something odd on Saturday against Oregon State: the Wildcats did not get to the free throw line much.  Despite being aggressive and charging the basket offensively, Arizona got to the line a season-low five times, making a season-low four attempts.  In fact, junior Jessica Arnold took and made all of the Wildcats’ free throw shots.

 

Interestingly enough, in the three games before Saturday’s matchup at Oregon State, Arizona excelled at getting to the free throw line.  The Wildcats toed the line 80 times during that three-game span, converting 54 free throws for a 67.5 average.  On the other side of the court, Arizona's opponents got to the line just 40 times, making 27 of their attempts (72.5 percent).  In those three games, Arizona drew 72 personal fouls while committing 53.

 

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: In the last three games, Arizona played its games following a similar pattern: one solid half of shooting from the field, one half of shooting 33.3 percent from the field.  Against Washington State on Jan. 6, Arizona shot 33.3 percent (8-24) from the field in the first half, but rallied to shoot 46.2 percent (12-26) in the second half.  Against Oregon last Thursday, the Wildcats opened the game hot, shooting 59.3 (16-27) from the field in the first half, but slumped to a 33.3 percent (10-30) mark in the second half.  In the last game against Oregon State, the Wildcats opened the game slow, shooting 33.3 percent (10-30) from the field in the first half, but rebounded to shoot 47.1 percent (16-34) in the second half.

 

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: In Arizona’s last three losses, the Wildcats have played tough in the second half only to see the game go into the hands of the opposition.  Against Washington on Jan. 4, the Wildcats used a 13-3 run to cut the Husky lead to 60-54 with 8:12 left in the game, only to be outscored 23-12 the rest of the way.  Against Oregon on Jan. 11, Arizona cut the Oregon lead to 58-53 14:24 left to play, but gave up a 13-1 run to the Ducks over the next 5:54 that put the game out of reach.  At Oregon State on Saturday, Arizona trimmed the OSU lead to 39-35 at the 14:54 mark in the second half, but gave up six-straight points to give the Beavers a 45-35 lead, enough of a cushion to last down the stretch for the OSU win.

 

BALL WORK: Arizona had probably its best game of handling the ball on Saturday at Oregon State.  The Wildcats scored its 26 field goals off of a season-high 21 assists against the Beavers while committing a season-low 12 turnovers.

 

GIVE HER THE ROCK: Joy Hollingsworth has been on a tear offensively as of late, posting 17 or more points in each of her last four games.  In her last four games, Hollingsworth is averaging 22. 0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.3 steals a game.

 

The Seattle native is averaging a team-best 16.0 points a game (6th in the Pac-10), as she has scored 22 points or more on six different occasions.  She is also averaging 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 steals a game (second in the Pac-10), and has posted double-figure point totals in 16 out of 19 games this season.  Hollingsworth is shooting 39.6 percent from the field (110-278), and averages 14 shots from the field a game. 

 

ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant was a general on the floor for the Wildcats on Saturday against Oregon State as she dished out a career-high tying 11 assists against the Beavers.  She last recorded 11 assists as a sophomore against Furman on Nov. 22, 2005.  On the season, Whisonant is averaging 11.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game, including marks of 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists 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 6.8 rebounds a game.  She leads the team with 60 offensive rebounds (second in the Pac-10), and is shooting 47.2 percent (68-144) 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 17 of her 19 games.  In Pac-10 play, Njonkou is averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.

 

STEPPING UP: Junior Jessica Arnold has been on target from the field as of late, as she is averaging 16.5 points a game in her last two outings.  Against Oregon last Thursday, Arnold poured in 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while taking just one shot from three point range.  Arnold drove to the basket more than usual on the Ducks, getting to the line a season-high seven times to hit a season-best five free throws, to go with two rebounds, three assists and a season-high two steals.  Against Oregon State on Saturday, Arnold scored 16 points, shooting 4-of-9 from three-point range, and converting on 4-of-5 free throw attempts.  In Pac-10 play, Arnold is averaging 10.3 points a game, and is shooting 36.1 percent (13-36) from three point range.

 

CAREER NIGHT: Freshman Rhaya Neabors had her best game to date at Oregon State, scoring a career-high 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, to go with a career-high tying seven rebounds.  She also hit her first three-point attempt in 15 games.  On the season, Neabors is 4.3 points and 2.9 rebounds a game in 23.9 minutes of action.

 

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 0-7 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 host UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. in McKale Center.  The game will be televised by Fox Sports Net.

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