The Arizona women’s basketball team (4-5) opens Pac-10 play with a 7 p.m. game against No. 10/12 Arizona State (9-1) this Thursday, Dec. 22. Video, audio and live stats of this and every home game are available at www.arizonaathletics.com.
Fans are encouraged to wear red for the Rivalry Red-Out. Free rally towels will be handed out courtesy of Pepsi (limited availability, while supplies last).
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS:
The Wildcats fell under .500 for the first time this season with an 86-63 loss at UC Santa Barbara Monday. Arizona managed just 36 percent from the field, 27 percent from beyond the arc and 69 percent from the free throw line on the game. The Gauchos connected on 45 percent from the field, 50 percent from downtown and 68 percent from the charity stripe. UCSB also out-rebounded the Wildcats 43 to 37 and was the first team all season to force Arizona into more turnovers, 19 to 13. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant led the team with 15 points, followed by sophomore Ch?© Oh with 10. Junior Linda Pace, who fouled out of the game, finished with nine points. Freshman Whitney Fields led the Cats with eight rebounds.
Senior Natalie Jones leads the Wildcats this season, averaging 16.2 points. Whisonant adds 14.9 points and 4.8 assists per game, while junior Joy Hollingsworth averages 14.0 points and a team-best 6.0 rebounds. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 41 percent from the field, compared to the 45 percent of their opponents. They are also being out-rebounded 36.3 to 38.4.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
Emily Westerberg had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead ASU to a 78-64 victory over Texas-San Antonio Monday night. Kristen Kovesdy also scored 17 points for the Sun Devils, who won their sixth-straight game. Jill Noe added 12 points. Arizona State, which led by just two points at halftime, shot 42 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 70 percent from the free throw line on the game, compared to the 53, 43 and 53 percent, respectively, of Texas-San Antonio. The Sun Devils out-rebounded the Roadrunners 40 to 27 and forced 16 UTSA turnovers.
On the season, the Sun Devils are led by Kovesdy, who averages 13.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. Westerberg and Noe add 12.6 and 11.7 points, respectively. As a team, ASU is shooting 48 percent from the field on the season, compared to the 45 percent of its opponents. The Sun Devils are also out-rebounding their opponents 36.4 to 28.6.
Arizona trails the all-time series with the Sun Devils 38-30. The last time the two teams met, on Jan. 26, 2005, the Wildcats won 56-49 in Tucson. Arizona is 16-16 at home, 12-21 away and 2-1 at a neutral site vs. Arizona State.
Freshman Amina Njonkou has a stress fracture in her right foot and is out another two weeks.
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS:
Arizona is 0-2 this season against ranked teams. The last time the Wildcats defeated a team in the Top 25 was Jan. 16, 2005, when Arizona beat then-No. 19 UCLA 84-73 in Los Angeles.
The Wildcats are fouling quite a bit this season. In its nine games, Arizona has committed more fouls than its opponent seven times and the same number once. The Wildcats have committed fewer fouls than their opponent one once, against Chicago State. In fact, Arizona has committed 20 or more fouls in five games this season, three of which have been losses.
Senior Natalie Jones, junior Joy Hollingsworth and sophomore Ashley Whisonant lead the Wildcats this season. The trio account for 64 percent of the team’s points. Whisonant has reached double-digit scoring in each of the nine games, while Jones and Hollingsworth have 10 or more points in eight games.
ARIZONA WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE:
In eight of its nine games this season, Arizona has committed the same or fewer turnovers than its opponent. The only game in which the Wildcats have turned the ball over more than their opponent was at UC Santa Barbara on Monday. The Wildcats average 5.1 fewer turnovers than their opponents, eight of which have committed 20 or more turnovers.
LACK OF SIZE EXPOSED:
With the death of 6-5 Shawntinice Polk and the medical redshirt of 6-2 Shannon Hobson, Arizona is left without much size inside. As a result, the Wildcats have been out-rebounded in seven of their nine games this season. The only two games in which Arizona pulled down more boards than its opponent were its first two games of the season against Loyola Marymount (42 to 36) and Furman (45 to 32). In the other seven games, the Wildcats have managed just 34.3 rebounds to their opponents’ 39.4.
HOLLINGSWORTH A JOY IN GAMES AS A WILDCAT:
After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, junior Joy Hollingsworth finally made her debut as a Wildcat in the team’s season-opening win over Loyola Marymount. In her nine games at Arizona, the guard is averaging 14.0 points per game on 45 percent shooting and has been named to the Great Alaska Shootout and Fiesta Bowl Classic all-tournament teams.
THE DISH ABOUT WHISONANT:
Sophomore point guard Ashley Whisonant, playing in a new position this season, is averaging 14.9 points and 4.8 assists per game. The Bowie, Md., native dished out a career-high 11 assists in Arizona’s win over Furman on Nov. 22 and tied her career high of 21 points against Lehigh on Dec. 4. She has also been named to both all-tournament teams in which Arizona has participated.
JONES SCORES 750TH CAREER POINT:
Senior Natalie Jones scored her 750th career point in Arizona’s win over Furman on Nov. 22 in her hometown of Anchorage. The senior is averaging 16.2 points per game for the Wildcats this season, including a career-high 29 at Maryland (Dec. 11). She has also been named to the Great Alaska Shootout and Fiesta Bowl Classic all-tournament teams.
PACE SETTING A NEW PACE:
Junior Linda Pace has more than quintupled her minutes and points from a year ago. The guard from San Diego, who has started all nine games for the Wildcats this season, is averaging 5.2 points in 23.3 minutes per game. In 21 appearances last season, she averaged 0.9 points in 4.2 minutes per game.
CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS:
Senior Natalie Jones ranks fourth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.770), sixth in three-point field goals attempted (301) and eighth in three-point field goals made (88).
Six of Arizona’s 2005-06 opponents (Stanford, Maryland, UCLA, USC, Utah and Arizona State) were 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 were ranked in all four polls. Arizona received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) polls.
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.
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.
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.
WILDCATS ON THE RADIO:
All of Arizona’s games this season are broadcast on Tucson’s Jolt, KJLL 1330 AM, the radio home of Arizona women’s basketball. With Paul Johnson in 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 four more games this season that will be broadcast on FSN:
Saturday, Dec. 31 - 4 p.m. vs. Washington (FSN Northwest, tape delayed on FSN Arizona)
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.
Arizona returns from the holidays for a 7 p.m. game against Washington State next Thursday, Dec. 29, in McKale.