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Arizona Women Travel to Alaska for Great Alaska Shootout
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/20/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team (1-0) makes its first trip to the Land of the Midnight Sun when it travels to Anchorage, Alaska, for the Great Alaska Shootout this Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 22-23. The Wildcats face Furman (1-0) at 8 p.m. (AKST) Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Sullivan Arena. The other first-round game is Central Connecticut State (0-1) at Alaska-Anchorage (2-0) at 6 p.m.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona defeated Loyola Marymount 74-66 in its season opener at McKale Center last Friday. It was the 12th time in the last 15 years that the Wildcats won their first game of the season. Arizona shot 42 percent from the field, 18 percent from downtown and 65 percent from the free throw line on the game, compared to the 46, 27 and 55, respectively, of LMU. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Lions 42 to 36 and forced 26 LMU turnovers. Junior Joy Hollingsworth led all players with 21 points. Senior Natalie Jones added 17 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Ch?© Oh was one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing with 16 points and nine boards. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant rounded out the group of Wildcats in double-figure scoring with 10 points. She also finished with game highs of five assists and four steals. Freshman Whitney Fields pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive, to go with eight points.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:

Furman - Sophomore guard Chrissy Phelps scored a career-high 20 points as Furman defeated Kennesaw State 98-95 last Friday. Lauren Few added 15 points, Jessica Lange had 14, Princess Wells totaled 11, and Sarah Baker and Tommi Paris each contributed 10 points. In addition, Phelps topped the team in rebounds, with nine, dished out five assists and nabbed six steals. KSU took 85 shots to the Lady Paladins’ 63, but made 42 percent compared to the Lady Paladins’ 48 percent.

The Lady Paladins return two starters from last year’s squad that went 18-10 and finished in third place with a 13-7 record in the Southern Conference. Furman is coached by former Arizona assistant Dr. Sam Dixon, now in his fourth season at the helm. Dixon has a 53-34 career record.

Central Connecticut State - The Blue Devils fell 58-49 at Eastern Michigan in their season opener last Friday. Central Connecticut State was led by junior forward Gabriella Guegbelet, who tallied a double-double - 13 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Kim Boone added 12 points in the loss. Eastern Michigan out-rebounded the Blue Devils 61-37 and had 22 offensive boards. CCSU shot 24 percent from the field and 23 percent from beyond the arc on the game.

CCSU returns three starters from last year’s squad that went 9-19 overall and 8-10 in the Northeast Conference. The Blue Devils are coached by fourth-year head coach Yvette Harris, who has a 21-63 career record.

Alaska-Anchorage - Rebecca Kielpinski came one point shy of the UAA freshman scoring record with 27 points last Thursday, leading Alaska-Anchorage to a 78-49 rout of San Diego Christian. UAA also got 13 points off the bench from freshman Kim Brady, who scored all of her points in just eight minutes without missing a shot. The Seawolves used a 46-23 rebounding advantage to run away with the win. Kielpinski, last year’s North Dakota Miss Basketball, also added 16 rebounds, six assists and five blocks. Freshman point guard Limor Pelleg was the third Seawolf in double figures with 10 points, while senior Kelsey Larsen finished with seven points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists.

The Seawolves, an NCAA Division II team, return just one starter from last year’s team that went 9-19 overall and 4-14 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The team is coached by third-year head coach Jody Hensen, who boasts a 24-32 career record.

SERIES SHORTS:

Furman - This is the first-ever meeting between Arizona and the Lady Paladins.

Central Connecticut State - Should the Wildcats face Central Connecticut State on Wednesday, it will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Alaska-Anchorage - If Arizona plays Alaska-Anchorage on Wednesday, it will be the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and the Seawolves.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Begun as a four-team event in 1980, the Northern Lights Invitational was suspended in 1998. Then on Sept. 3, 1998, it was announced that the nationally acclaimed Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout would encompass a four-team women’s tourney as well. With the merger, the women’s Shootout coincides with the men’s eight-team format held at the 8,700-capacity Sullivan Arena in Midtown Anchorage, providing more visibility for the women’s program.

In November 1999, the women’s Shootout made its debut, with underdog UAA taking Louisville and Northern Arizona to the wire before falling, and Kansas capturing the title game over Louisville.

INJURY UPDATE: Freshman Amina Njonkou has a stress fracture in her right foot and is out another 2-5 weeks.

HOMECOMING FOR JONES: Senior Natalie Jones will be at home during Arizona’s games in the Great Alaska Shootout. The guard was part of three state champion teams at East Anchorage High School, during which time the Thunderbirds posted a 102-8 mark. Jones was the 2002 USA Today Alaska Player of the Year She was also named MVP of the Alaska Basketball Development Program.

HOLLINGSWORTH A JOY IN WILDCAT DEBUT: After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, junior Joy Hollingsworth finally made her debut as a Wildcat in last Friday’s win over Loyola Marymount. And boy did she make use of it. The guard scored a game-high 21 points.

CATS PICKED TO FINISH SIXTH, SEVENTH IN PAC-10: Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Wildcats garnered 42 points, just one point behind fifth-place Oregon. In the media poll, Arizona was picked to finish seventh in the conference, receiving 59 votes.

GOING POLLING: Six of Arizona’s 2005-06 opponents (Stanford, Maryland, UCLA, USC, Utah and Arizona State) are nationally ranked in the various preseason polls. Pac-10 power Stanford is ranked as high as No. 8, while Pac-10 teams USC and Arizona State are ranked in all four polls. Arizona received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) polls.

STACKED PAC: As a conference, the Pac-10 finished last season ranked as the third toughest conference in the nation after sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. Finishing ahead of the Pac-10 were the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Wildcats have a challenging schedule that includes 12 games against eight teams (Arizona State, Maryland, Oregon, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, USC, Utah and Wisconsin-Green Bay) that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Of those teams, six advanced to the second round, while Arizona State made it to the Sweet 16 and Stanford to the Elite Eight.

CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior Natalie Jones ranks sixth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.757), eighth in three-point field goals attempted (252), and ninth in three-point field goals made (72).

WILDCATS ON THE RADIO: All of Arizona’s games this season will be broadcast on Tucson’s Jolt, KJLL 1330 AM, the radio home of Arizona women’s basketball. With Paul Johnson returning for his 11th year as the Wildcats’ play-by-play announcer, the Jolt will broadcast every game, home and away.

WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Wildcats have five games this season that will be broadcast on FSN:

Saturday, Nov. 26 - 7:30 p.m. vs. Utah (FSN Arizona)

Saturday, Dec. 31 - 4 p.m. vs. Washington (FSN Northwest)

Sunday, Jan. 8 - noon vs. USC (FSN)

Saturday, Jan. 14 - noon vs. Oregon (FSN)

Sunday, Jan. 22 - 1 p.m. (PST) at California (FSN)

In addition, the Wildcats’ games at home against Stanford (Feb. 18) and at Arizona State (Feb. 25) are "wild card" games that could get picked up in the Pac-10 television package.

UP NEXT: The losers of the first-round games will square off at 2:30 p.m. (AKST) Wednesday, Nov. 23, in the consolation game. The winners of the first-round games will play for the tournament title in the championship game at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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