COMING UP: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (6-7, 0-1 Pac-10) travels to Bay Area, to take on the No. 14-ranked Stanford Cardinal (7-3, 2-0 Pac-10) on Thursday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. (PST) in Maples Pavilion. The Wildcats have opened the Pac-10 schedule with at least a 1-1 record through their first two games for the last 12-consecutive seasons.
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.
ARIZONA STATE RECAP: Arizona could not overcome a dismal first half, dropping its Pac-10 opener at No. 10 Arizona State (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10), 89-62, on Friday night before a crowd of 3,725 in Wells Fargo Arena.
The Wildcats shot 25.9 percent (7-27) from the field in the first half, its lowest mark in a half this season, but rallied to shoot 66.7 percent (18-27) from the field in the second half, its highest mark in half this season.
The Wildcats finished the game shooting 46.3 percent (25-54) from the field, compared to a 49.3 percent mark (33-67) by the Sun Devils. Arizona out-rebounded Arizona State 36-34, but committed a season-high 31 turnovers.
ASU went 21-of-30 (70.0 percent) from the free throw line off of 24 UA fouls, as the Wildcats shot 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) from the free throw line in the game.
Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth and sophomore Amina Njonkou each finished with 14 points and seven rebounds apiece, and junior Ashley Whisonant added seven points and seven assists.
Senior Emily Westerberg led ASU with 20 points.
Arizona and ASU both got off to slow starts to begin the game, with the teams going scoreless for the first 2:20 until a layup by ASU’s Jill Noe at the 17:40 mark. The Sun Devils climbed out to a 14-2 lead over Arizona at the 13:50 mark, as the Wildcats shot 1-of-8 from the field with seven turnovers. ASU led 26-6 at the 10:34 mark, and went up 34-12 with 5:42 left to play in the first half. Arizona trailed ASU at the half 45-21, shooting 25.9 percent (7-27) from the field, while committing 19 turnovers and 15 fouls.
The Wildcats opened the second half shooting 7-of-8 from the field (87.5 percent) but still trailed 64-37 with 11:31 left in the game. Arizona made 18 of its first 21 shots from the floor in the second half, but could never cut into the Sun Devil lead. ASU led by as many as 31 points in the second half while shooting 48.4 percent (15-31) from the field.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 65.2 points a game while shooting 40.9 percent (331-810) from the field, 25.0 percent (50-200) from three-point range, and 66.0 percent (136-206) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have also tallied 126 steals (9.7 spg) off of 266 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 16.1 points a game while posting 6.1 rebounds, and 2.7 steals per game.
ABOUT THE CARDINAL: The Stanford University Cardinal enters Thursday’s game ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, and No. 15 in the Coaches’ poll. Stanford started the season 2-3, but has reeled off five-straight wins by an average of 21.6 points. The Cardinal is 5-1 at home so far this season. As a team, Stanford shoots 45.2 percent (281-621) from the field, 32.0 percent (49-153) from three-point range, and 62.0 percent (98-158) from the free throw line, while averaging 70.9 points a game. Junior Candice Wiggins averages a team-best 16.4 points a game, as one of four players averaging double-figures in scoring. Head coach Tara VanDerveer is in her 21st season at the helm of the Stanford program.
THE STANFORD-ARIZONA SERIES: Thursday’s game will be the 55th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Cardinal on the hardwood, with Stanford owning a 42-12 series advantage. Stanford swept the two-game series last year, and has won six-consecutive games in the series. The Wildcats last defeated the Cardinal in Maples Pavilion on Jan. 6, 2001, a 68-65 win for the Wildcats
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 272-189 (.590) mark at Arizona and is 597-260 (.697) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just three wins to become the 14th 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.
CHRISTMAS SPIRT: Arizona seems to know how to keep the Holiday spirit alive, as the Wildcats are 12-3 all-time under head coach Joan Bonvicini in their first game following Christmas. The Wildcats have won their last four-consecutive games immediately following Christmas.
GOTTA HAVE ONE: Arizona is trying to avoid its first 0-2 start in the Pac-10 since the 1992-93 season. The Wildcats have at least split their first two Pac-10 games for the past 12-straight seasons.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES: Arizona played like two different teams last Friday against Arizona State, as the Wildcats experienced a season low and a season high on offense in the same game. In the first half, Arizona shot 25.9 percent (7-27) from the field against the Sun Devils, a season low in a half this season. The Wildcats were 0-for-4 from three point range in the half, while committing 19 turnovers and 15 fouls.
In the second half, Arizona shot 66.7 percent (18-27) from the field, a season high in a half this season. The Wildcats made 18 of their first 21 shots (85.7 percent) in the second half, while committing 12 turnovers and nine personal fouls.
NOT SO EASY: Arizona continued its layup lapse against the Sun Devils on Friday, but was able to turn things around in the second half of the game. In the first half, the Wildcats made just four layups on 15 attempts (26.6 percent), leading to a season-low 25.9 shooting percentage. However, in the second half, the Wildcats posted a 12-of-15 mark (80 percent) on layup attempts. Against Fresno State on Dec. 18, Arizona shot a season-low 30.7 percent (23-75) from the field, large in part because the Wildcats were 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) on layup attempts.
LATE GAME WOES: In Arizona's last three losses, the Wildcats have gone cold at the end of the game. At Arizona State on Friday, the Wildcats finished the game shooting 0-for-6 from the field in the final 2:46 of the game. Against Fresno State, Arizona led 60-56 with 4:50 left to play in the game, but went scoreless down the stretch shooting 0-for-11 from the field, while being outscored 13-0 for a 69-60 loss. Against Utah on Dec. 9, the Wildcats led 55-54 with 5:58 left to play but shot 2-of-6 from the field the rest of the way, missed two free throw attempts, while getting outscored 12-5 down the stretch for a 66-60 loss.
LOSS TRENDS: In Arizona’s last four losses, the Wildcats are shooting 39.6 percent from the floor (95-240), 19.7 percent (42-60) from three-point range, while committing 89 fouls to 64 for their opponents, and getting out-rebounded by the opposition 154-137. During that span, Arizona is averaging 61.2 points a game, compared to a 75.0 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.
TURNOVERS: The Wildcats committed a season-high 31 turnovers against Arizona State last Friday. Arizona’s previous season high for TOs was 22, as the Wildcats had committed 19 turnovers or fewer in 11 of their first 12 games.
GET THE BALL: In Friday’s game at Arizona State, Arizona lost for the first time this season when out-rebounding the opposition. The Wildcats out-rebounded Arizona State 36-34, after being out-rebounded in four-consecutive games before that. The Wildcats are 4-1 when out-rebounding the opposition on the season.
OFFENSIVE BOARDS: So far this season, the Wildcats have done a solid job on the offensive glass. On the year, the Wildcats have grabbed 182 offensive rebounds, leading to 176 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 14.0 offensive rebounds and 13.5 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in 10 of 13 games.
POST POWER: Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season. Arizona has scored 428 points in the paint, which is 50.5 percent of the team's total offensive production. The Wildcats are averaging 32.9 points in the paint each game, posting 112 points in the paint in the last three games alone, good for 56.3 percent of the team's offensive production in that span.
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 126 steals (9.7 spg) on the season off of 266 opponent turnovers, converting 237 points (19.8 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season. The Wildcats have recorded double-figures in steals in seven games this season. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 2.7 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 237 bench points in 13 games (18.2 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points 11 of its 13 games this season, as the bench has accounted for 27.9 percent of the team's 848 points. The Wildcats finished with 25 bench points against Arizona State.
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 16.1 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 2.7 steals a game, and has posted double-figure point totals in 12 out of 13 games this season. Hollingsworth is shooting 41.2 percent from the field (75-182), and averages 14 shots from the field a game. In her last four games, Hollingsworth is averaging 18.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.
ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant has upped her performance in the last seven games, as she is averaging 11.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.4 steals a game during that span. In her last four games, Whisonant has posted six or more assists in each game, including seven assists in her last two contests. On the season, Whisonant is averaging 11.2 points and a team-best 4.2 assists per game.
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 9.8 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds a game. She leads the team with 38 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 51.5 percent (52-101) 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 11 of her 13 games.
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 0-5 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 74-33 (.692) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 60-22 (.732) 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 2-4 so far in the month of December.
UP NEXT: Arizona will travel to Berkeley, Calif., to take on No. 18 California on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. (PST) in Haas Pavilion.