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Women's Basketball Finishes Bay Area Swing at No. 18 Cal
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 12/29/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (6-8, 0-2 Pac-10) travels to Berkeley, Calif., to face the No. 18-ranked California Golden Bears (9-3, 1-2 Pac-10) on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. (PST).  The Wildcats face their third-straight ranked opponent, their seventh this season, and try to avoid their first 0-3 start to a Pac-10 season since 1992-93.

 

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.

 

STANFORD RECAP: No. 14 Stanford (8-3, 3-0 Pac-10) had five players score in double-figures for an 86-58 win over Arizona (6-8, 0-2 Pac-10) on Thursday night in Maples Pavilion before a crowd of 3,230.

 

Arizona shot 36.5 percent (23-63) from the field in the game, compared to 45.7 percent (32-70) mark for Stanford.  The Cardinal out-rebounded the Wildcats 42-36, while forcing 23 UA turnovers.

 

Individually for Arizona, junior Ashley Whisonant finished with a team-high 13 points, and junior Suzy Bofia added 11 points.  Sophomore Amina Njonkou posted eight points and nine rebounds, and sophomore Malia O’Neal added nine points.

 

Stanford held senior Joy Hollingsworth, Arizona’s leading scorer, to just two points in the game on 0-of-8 shooting from the field.

 

Arizona opened the game with a jumper by freshman Rhaya Neabors to take a 2-0 lead, but Stanford raced out to a 13-4 advantage at the 13:57 mark, as the Wildcats started off shooting 2-of-12 from the field.  Arizona cut the Stanford lead to 17-13 on a trey by junior Jessica Arnold with 9:15 left in the first, but the Cardinal responded with a 9-0 scoring run in the next 3:07 to go up 26-13.  Stanford shot 45.7 percent (16-35) from the field in the first half, with Arizona shooting 35.5 percent (11-31), leading the Wildcats 40-26 at the half.

 

Stanford stretched its lead over Arizona in the second half, jumping out to a 64-40 lead with 11:48 left to play.  The Cardinal led by as many as 29 points in the second half, duplicating their mark of 45.7 percent (16-35) from the field in the first half, as Arizona shot 37.5 percent (12-32) from the field after halftime.

 

 

A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 64.7 points a game while shooting 40.5 percent (354-873) from the field, 25.0 percent (53-212) from three-point range, and 65.9 percent (145-220) from the free throw line.  The Wildcats have also tallied 140 steals (10.0 spg) off of 284 opponent turnovers.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 15.1 points a game while posting 5.9 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game.

 

ABOUT THE GOLDEN BEARS: The University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears enter Saturday’s game ranked No. 18 in the AP poll, and No. 19 in the Coaches’ poll.  Cal is 4-1 at home this season, losing for the first time to No. 10 Arizona State, 74-58, on Thursday night.  As a team, Cal shoots 48.1 percent (309-643) from the field, 32.5 percent (41-126) from three point range, and 69.0 percent (211-306) from the free throw line.  Sophomore Ashley Walker leads the team with 19.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.  Head coach Joanne Boyle is in her second season at the helm of the Golden Bear program.

 

THE CALIFORNIA-ARIZONA SERIES: Saturday’s game will be the 45th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Golden Bears on the hardwood, with Arizona owning a 29-15 all-time series advantage.  The two teams split last year’s series, with each team winning on the road.  Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, Arizona is 24-8 against Cal, including a 24-4 mark against the Golden Bears since the 1993 season.  Arizona had a 19-game winning streak against Cal from 1994-2005, but Cal has won two of the last three meetings. 

 

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 272-190 (.589) mark at Arizona and is 597-261 (.697) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just three wins to become the 17th 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 opened Pac-10 play at No. 10 Arizona State on Dec. 22, and now travels to the Bay Area for games at No. 14 Stanford on Dec. 28, and at No. 18 California on Dec. 30.  The Wildcats will play five of their first seven Pac-10 games on the road.

 

TOUGH BEATS: Arizona has lost eight games on the season, but their beats have come against some of the top teams in the nation.  Entering Saturday’s game against No. 18 Cal, Arizona’s eight losses have been against teams with a combined record of 74-20 (.787), with six of those losses being to ranked teams.

 

GOTTA HAVE ONE: Arizona is trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Pac-10 since the 1992-93 season.  

 

LATE GAME WOES: In Arizona's last four losses, the Wildcats have gone cold at the end of the game.  Here is a look at the Wildcats’ shooting from the field at the end of those games:

 

at Stanford: 3-for-11 from the field, six turnovers in the final 6:38

at Arizona State: 0-for-6 from the field, three turnovers in the final 2:46

vs. Fresno State: 0-for-11 from the field, two turnovers in the final 4:50

at Utah: 2-for-6 from the field, 0-of-2 from FT, five turnovers in the final 5:58

 

LOSS TRENDS: In Arizona's last five losses, the Wildcats are shooting 38.9 percent from the floor (118-303), 20.5 percent (16-78) from three-point range, while committing 107 fouls (21 fouls per game) to 75 for their opponents, and getting out-rebounded by the opposition 200-175.  During that span, Arizona is averaging 60.6 points a game, compared to a 77.2 mark for opponents.

 

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.

 

OFFENSIVE BOARDS: So far this season, the Wildcats have done a solid job on the offensive glass.  On the year, the Wildcats have grabbed 198 offensive rebounds, leading to 188 second-chance points.  Arizona is averaging 14.1 offensive rebounds and 13.4 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 11 of 14 games.

 

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 1-6 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

20 points: 26-6 run to Arizona State over 9:26 to start 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 140 steals (10.0 spg) on the season off of 284 opponent turnovers, converting 248 points (17.7 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season.  The Wildcats have recorded double-figures in steals in eight games this season, including 14 steals against Stanford on Thursday.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.6 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 267 bench points in 14 games (19.0 ppg).  Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points 12 of its 14 games this season, as the bench has accounted for 29.5 percent of the team's 906 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.

 

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 15.1 points a game (seventh in the Pac-10), as she scored 22 points or more on four different occasions.  She is also averaging 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game, and has posted double-figure point totals in 12 out of 14 games this season.  Hollingsworth is shooting 39.5 percent from the field (75-190), and averages 14 shots from the field a game. 

 

Hollingsworth was held to just two points on 0-of-8 shooting from the field against Stanford on Thursday.  The last time she was held under double-figures was when she scored six points against New Mexico.  She responded by scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds against Utah in the next game.

 

ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant been a constant force for the Wildcats in the backcourt, averaging 11.4 points (second on the team), a team-best 4.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals a game.  Against Stanford, she posted a team-high 13 points with five rebounds.

 

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 9.7 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds a game.  She leads the team with 44 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 51.4 percent (55-107) 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 12 of her 14 games.

 

In two Pac-10 games, Njonkou is averaging team-highs of 11.0 points and 8.0 rebounds a game.

 

STEPPING UP: Sophomore Malia O’Neal has provided a much needed spark for the Wildcats off the bench.  Against Stanford, O’Neal posted nine points, two rebounds, and a career-high six steals in 20 minutes of play.  She is second on the team with 2.1 assists per game.

 

PLAYING TALL: Junior Suzy Bofia has upped her production in Pac-10 play.  The 6-foot-6 center is averaging 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in two conference games, numbers much higher than her season averages of 6.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.  Against Stanford, Bofia finished with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, to go with four rebounds.

 

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 0-6 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 74-34 (.685) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 60-23 (.723) 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 2-5 so far in the month of December.

 

UP NEXT: Arizona will return to Tucson to host Washington on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

 

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