Pullman, Wash. ?- Junior guard Jessica Arnold hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left in the game to lift Arizona (8-16, 2-10 Pac-10) to a 55-51 win over Washington State (5-17, 1-11 Pac-10) on Thursday night at Beasley Coliseum. The win ends a six-game losing streak for the Wildcats, and gives head coach Joan Bonvicini 599 victories in her career, as she stands just one win shy of becoming the 18th coach in NCAA history to reach the 600 win milestone.
“I knew coming into this game we needed to step up our defense,” Bonvicini said. “We have struggled to win games, but I knew that if we rebounded and played defense that we would put ourselves in line to win this game. This was a good collective team effort for us.”
Arizona shot a season-low 28.6 percent (18-63) from the field, but out-rebounded WSU 42-33, including 21 offensive boards. The Wildcats also shot 38.1 percent (8-21) from three point range, 73.3 percent (11-15) from the free throw line, and finished with eight steals and 13 assists.
Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth led the way with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including a career high five three pointers on 10 attempts. Arnold added 13 points, and junior Shannon Hobson added eight points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Amina Njonkou finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Marisa Stotler led Washington State with 16 points.
Arizona started the game off strong, jumping out to a 12-6 lead over the Cougars at the 13:41 mark in the first half. Washington State responded with a 7-0 scoring run over three minutes to take a 13-12 lead. The Wildcats went scoreless for a stretch of seven minutes until a three by Hollingsworth gave Arizona a 16-15 lead at the 6:48 mark. Arizona extended its lead to 26-19 with 1:26 left in the first, but WSU closed the half out with five straight points and trailed 26-24 at halftime. Arizona shot 29.6 percent (8-27) from the field in the first.
The second half was very close, as the Cougs and Cats traded leads until the final minute. Arizona trailed 46-43 with 5:41 left, but a three by Hollingsworth tied the game up at 46-46 with 5:15 left. With the game tied up at 51-51, Njonkou hit a layup with 1:07 left in the game to put Arizona up 53-51. Arnold sealed the win with two free throws down the stretch to give Arizona its first win in seven games.
Arizona will next travel to Washington on Saturday, Feb. 3, for a 1 p.m. matchup with Huskies in Bank of America Arena.