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011-23-2007 vs. Middle Tennessee Game Notes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/23/2007
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Complete Release as a PDF

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Coming Up:

The Arizona womenˇ?s basketball team (2-3) returns home to host Middle Tennessee State (2-1) on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. in McKale Center.? The Wildcats and the Blue Raiders will meet up on the hardwood for the first time.

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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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NC State Recap:

Arizona could not overcome a slow start and cold shooting, dropping a road contest to NC State, 80-47, on Tuesday night in Reynolds Coliseum.

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Arizona finished the game shooting 27.4 percent from the floor (17-62) and committed 24 turnovers, but managed to collect 14 steals.? NC State shot 52.8 percent (28-53) from the floor, including a 9-of-14 mark (64.3 percent) from three point range, and outrebounded the Wildcats 43-36.

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Individually for the Wildcats, senior Ashley Whisonant scored a team-high 14 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and four steals.? Sophomore Amina Njonkou added seven points and six rebounds.

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Sharnise Beal led NC State with 16 points, and Khadijah Whittington added 11 points and 13 rebounds.

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NC State started the game hitting two early threes, taking a 6-0 lead at the 16:26 mark as the Wildcats missed their first three shots from the field to go with three turnovers.? Arizona then cut the deficit in half on a three by Whisonant, and trailed 8-5 with 13:54 left in the first. ?NC State then used a 14-4 scoring run over the next 5:34 to go up 22-9 at the 8:20 mark.

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Arizona rallied with six-straight points to cut the deficit to 22-15 with 6:59 left before the half, but the Wolfpack outscored the Wildcats 17-8 from that point on to go into halftime up 39-23.? Arizona shot 32.1 percent (9-28) from the floor in the first half compared to a 50 percent mark (15-30) for the Wolfpack, and committed 15 turnovers.? NC State also hit seven of eight three pointers in the first half.

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The Wolfpack expanded its lead at the very start of the second half, using an 8-0 run in the first 2:04 to go up 47-23.? NC State cruised the rest of the game, and led by as many as 34 points in the second half.? The Wolfpack shot 56.5 percent (13-23) in the second half, holding Arizona to a 23.5 percent mark (8-34).

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About the Blue Raiders:

The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders enter Sundayˇ?s game with a 2-1 record.? MTSU dropped its season opener at Old Dominion (76-68), but has won its last two contests including a 69-68 victory at Houston on Nov. 19.? Last season, the Blue Raiders went 30-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.? As a team, MTSU shoots 42.8 percent from the field, 40.3 percent (31-77) from three point range, and 67.4 percent (29-43) from the free throw line.? Senior Amber Holt averages a team-best 21.0 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.? Head coach Rick Insell is in his third season at the helm of the Blue Raider program.

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Series Notes:

Sundayˇ?s game will mark the first meeting between Middle Tennessee and Arizona on the hardwood.

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November Numbers:

Arizona is 40-22 (.645) since 1991 under head coach Joan Bonvicini in the month of November, including a 25-12 mark (.676) in the month since the start of the 1999-00 season.? Last year, Arizona went 4-3 in November, and is 2-3 in the month so far this season.

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We Love Sundays:

Arizona will look to continue its good fortune on Sundays, as the Wildcats will face off against Middle Tennessee on the Sabbath.? Last season, Arizona was 3-0 when playing on Sundays, and the Wildcats picked up their first win of the season over Charlotte, 86-77, in overtime on a Sunday.

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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 279-206 (.575) mark at Arizona and is 604-277 (.686) 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:

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.

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Make Those Layups!:

In basketball, it is almost a sin to miss a layup.? You just have to have layupsˇ? period.? After missing a combined 51 layups at the WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic to open the season, the Wildcats are still struggling to put the ball into the hoop when up close in the paint.? After missing 10 layups against Portland, Arizona missed 14 layups against NC State on Tuesday.? If the Wildcats made just half of those misses (seven) from close range, their shooting percentage would have risen from 27.4 percent (17-62) to 38.7 percent.

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Slow Starts:

Through the first five games, Arizona is getting outscored 187-146 by opponents in the first half.? Against NC State, the Wildcats trailed 39-23 at the half, as the Wildcats have trailed at the break in four of their first five contests.

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Needs Improvement:

For Arizona to continue its winning ways, the Wildcats will need to improve their outside shooting from behind the three-point line.? Through five games, Arizona has hit 15-of-64 three pointers for a 23.4 percent clip.? Opponents, on the other hand, are putting up a 42.7 percent mark (44-103) from three point land on the Wildcats.? After giving up an opponent season-high 10 threes to Portland, NC State shot 64.3 percent (9-14) from behind the arc against the Wildcats.

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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 114 times, but is only shooting 64.9 percent (74-114) from the charity stripe.? Opponents are shooting a solid 72.7 percent (80-110) from the line against the Cats.? Against NC State, Arizona shot 58.8 percent (10-17) from the line.

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Grab That Ball:

So far, Arizona isnˇ?t doing the job it is supposed to do on the boards.? Through five games, Arizona is getting outrebounded by the opposition 209-183.? The Wildcats, however, have managed to pull down 75 offensive rebounds, including 17 against NC State on Tuesday.

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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 five games, Arizona has forced 117 turnovers on the opposition, which equates to an average of 23.4 turnovers a game.? The Wildcats, on the other hand, have turned the ball over 100 times, and own a +3.4 turnover margin.? Arizona forced NC State to commit 23 turnovers on Tuesday, and scored 13 points off of those fumbles.

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Ball Thieves:

The Wildcats have shown they can scratch at opponents, posting 57 steals so far on the season for an 11.4 steals per game average.? Arizona has racked up 41 steals in its last three games (13.7 spg), including a season-high 14 against Portland and NC State.

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Paint Job:

So far, Arizona has been doing a solid job scoring in the paint.? Through five games, the Wildcats have posted 178 points in the paint, which accounts for 51.3 percent of the teamˇ?s point production (347).

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Lotta Action:

So far, a lot of Wildcats are getting a lot of action.? Through five games, 10 Wildcats are averaging double figures in playing time, led by senior Ashley Whisonantˇ?s 37.2 minutes per game average.

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Splinters Out:

Arizonaˇ?s bench 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.? Arizonaˇ?s reserves have accounted for 122 points for a 24.4 ppg average, which is also 35.1 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 17.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists a game while snagging 2.4 steals a contest.? Against NC State, Whisonant finished with a team-best 14 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and four steals in 35 minutes of action.? Last season, the 1,000-point scorer averaged 11.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists a 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 1,092 career points (98 games), Whisonant needs 52 points to catch Yolanda Turner (1984-87) for the No. 12 position.

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Amina the Bull:

Junior forward Amina Njonkou is a force down low in the paint, and her strength allows her to bull over defenders.? Through five games, Njonkou is averaging 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game, while shooting 42.2 percent (19-45) from the field.? Last season, the 6-foot-1 Foumban, Cameroon native averaged 8.4 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds a game, posting a team best four double-doubles.?

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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 five games, Dickey is averaging 9.4 points on 18-of-37 shooting (48.6 percent), 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 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 five games, averaging 9.6 points on a team-best 61.8 percent shooting (21-34) and a team-high 5.6 rebounds a game in just 16.0 minutes per game.? 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.? One area Ibekwe needs to improve on is free throw shooting.? On the season, Ibekwe is shooting just 42.9 percent (6-14) from the line.

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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 take a week off before hosting Northern Arizona on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

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