Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Women's Basketball Takes On No. 10 Texas A&M
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 28, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (4-2) puts its three-game winning streak on the line against No. 10 Texas A&M (5-0) in College Station, Texas on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. (CST).  The Wildcats are 2-0 so far this season against teams from the state of Texas, but are 0-2 so far against ranked opponents.



The Arizona vs. Texas A&M game will be broadcasted live over the internet at:


As always, Arizona women’s basketball games can be heard live on KTUC AM 1400, with Paul Johnson calling the action from courtside.



Arizona saw a 20-point lead vanish in the final minutes of the game, but held on to defeat UTEP (4-1), 72-68, on Sunday afternoon in the Don Haskins Center.


Arizona led 67-47 with 3:37 left in the game, but was outscored 21-5 down the stretch as UTEP shot 7-of-9 from the field, including a 6-of-8 mark from three point land in the final minutes to turn a blowout into a nail bitter.


Arizona finished the game shooting 46.7 (28-60) percent from the field, including a 6-of-15 mark from three point territory, and out-rebounded UTEP 38-34.


Individually for Arizona, senior Joy Hollingsworth led the Wildcats with a season-high 22 points and nine rebounds.  Sophomore Amina Njonkou scored 14 points to go with five rebounds, and junior Suzy Bofia added 10 points and five rebounds.


Arizona jumped out to an early 6-0 lead over UTEP, as Suzy Bofia scored the Wildcats’ first six points of the game, shooting 3-for-4 from the field.  UTEP took its first lead of the game at 14-13 at the 13:07 mark, but Arizona took control of the first half from that point on, as the Wildcats outscored the Miners 30-9 the rest of the half.  Arizona used a 22-6 run over 9:03 to take a 35-20 lead on a three by Hollingsworth with 4:04 left to play, and scored the final five points of the half in the last 2:42 to lead UTEP 43-23 at halftime


Arizona shot 52.9 percent (18-34) from the field in the first half, including a 5-of-11 mark from three-point territory, as Hollingsworth scored 15 points, and Njonkou added nine points in the first half alone.  UTEP shot 37 percent (10-27) from the field in the first half, as UA out-rebounded UTEP 22-12.


Arizona cruised in the first seven minutes of the second half, but UTEP fought back using an 8-0 scoring run to cut Arizona’s lead to 51-38 with 12:24 left.  The Wildcats responded with four-straight field goals capped by a Hollingsworth trey and led 60-38 at the 8:36 mark.


UA led 66-43 with 5:48 left, and seemed to be in total control of the game, until UTEP caught fire down the stretch.  The Miners scored 12-unanswered points in 2:32 and trailed 68-62 with 34 seconds left to play.  A trey by Williams cut the deficit to 70-65 with 14 seconds left, and a three by Ana Valtierra cut the UA lead to 71-68 with one second left on the clock, but Arizona was able to hold the Miners off from the free throw line to claim the four-point win.


Arizona shot 38.5 percent (10-26) from the field in the second half, as UTEP shot 53.1 percent (17-32), with an 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) mark from three-point land in the final frame.



Arizona averages 68 points a game while shooting 42.3 percent (161-381) from the field, 29.2 percent (26-89) from three-point territory, and 61.2 percent (60-98) from the free throw line.  The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents 240-223 in the first six games, and have tallied 62 steals (10.3 spg) off of 122 opponent turnovers.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.



The Texas A&M University Aggies (5-0) enter Tuesday night’s game ranked No. 10 in the nation, the program’s highest ranking in school history.  The Aggies won their first five games of the season by an average of 37.6 points.  Texas A&M has won 17-consecutive non-conference games at home in Reed Arena, as the Aggies are 3-0 at home so far this season, last defeating McNeese State, 109-26, on Nov. 21.  Texas A&M shoots 52.7 percent (158-300) from the field, 50 percent (29-58) from three-point land, and 61.8 percent (63-102) from the free throw line.  The Aggies have tallied 65 steals, 25 blocks, 119 assists, while out-rebounding its opposition 126-96.  Junior Morenike Atunrase averages 18.4 points and 4.0 rebounds a game, and sophomore Takia Starks averages 13.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest for the Aggies.  Head coach Gary Blair enters his fourth season at the helm of the Aggie program.



Tuesday’s matchup will be the third game in the all-time series between Arizona and Texas A&M, with the Wildcats owning a 2-0 series advantage over the Aggies.  Arizona last played Texas A&M on Dec. 10, 1997, an 84-59 win for the Wildcats.  Arizona last played in College Station, Texas on Nov. 24, 1996, a 96-76 win for UA.



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 270-184 (.595) mark at Arizona and is 595-255 (.700) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just five wins to become the 13th 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. 



Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983): Enters her sixth season as an assistant with the Wildcats.  Barney is the recruiting coordinator and is also responsible for scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.


Todd Holthaus (Grand Canyon, 1995): Enters his second season with the Wildcats after serving as the head coach at Flowing Wells High School for seven years. He is responsible for post player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.


Jonelle Streed (St. Cloud State, 2003): Enters her first season as assistant coach after having spent the previous two seasons as the program's graduate assistant video coordinator. She is responsible for perimeter player development, recruiting, scouting, floor work and assisting with the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.



For some reason, it seems like the Wildcats enjoy letting the game go down to the wire.  Maybe they enjoy the pressure.  Arizona’s last three wins have been decided by four points or less, two of those wins coming in overtime, and all three wins not decided until the final minute of the game.



The Wildcats have a tendency to play like two different teams in two different halves.  In the last three games, Arizona has outscored the opposition 99-70 in the first half, but has been outscored by the opposition 109-84 in the second half.  In those three games, Arizona has led at halftime each time only to be outscored in the second half.  Sunday’s game against UTEP was a perfect example of this as Arizona held a 43-23 halftime lead over the Miners, only to be outscored 45-29 in the second half.  In each case, however, the Wildcats have held on for the win.



Arizona is currently riding a three-game win streak, its longest streak since Feb. 10-17 of 2005.  The Wildcats went all of last season without winning more than two-straight games.



Since the 2003-04 season, Arizona has had the opportunity to win four-consecutive games seven times.  The Wildcats have succeeded winning the fourth game in six of those seven instances entering tonight’s game.



As a team, Arizona shoots 61.2 percent (60-98) from the free throw line, and unfortunately doesn’t shoot any better down the stretch when games are still on the line.  In the final minute in the last three games, Arizona is 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) from the free throw line.  Against UTEP on Sunday, Arizona was 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) from the line in the game, including an 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) mark from the charity stripe in the second half.



Arizona has played a very challenging schedule in the early part of the season, and things will not get any easier down the stretch.  Including Arizona’s game against Texas A&M on Tuesday, the Wildcats’ first seven games of the season will have been against teams with a current combined record of 28-12 (.700).



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 in the first six games:


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

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

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: 10-0 run over 1:47 in the second half vs. GW



Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season.  Arizona has scored 216 points in the paint, which is 53 percent of the team's offensive production.  The Wildcats are averaging 36 points in the paint each game, scoring 38 points in the paint Friday night against the Wolfpack, and 40 points in the paint against UTEP on Sunday.



In the first six games, Arizona has out-rebounded its opposition 240-223.  The Wildcats have grabbed 81 offensive rebounds, leading to 83 second-chance points.  Arizona is averaging 13.5 offensive rebounds and 13.8 second-chance points a game.



So far, Arizona has tallied 62 steals (10.33 spg) off of 122 opponent turnovers, which is the second-best mark in the Pac-10.  Arizona has converted 114 points (19.0 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 3.3 spg (second in the Pac-10), while junior Ashley Whisonant averages 1.7 spg.



Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 116 bench points in five games (19.3 ppg).  Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points in each game, notching 32 bench points against Nicholls State, 12 points against GW, 21 points against Maryland, 22 points against TCU, 10 points against NC State, and 19 points against UTEP.  The Arizona bench has accounted for 28.4 percent of the team's 408 points.



Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it.  In the first six games, nine players are averaging double-figures in playing time.  Against NC State on Friday, eight players played 15 minutes or more, and eight players played 16 minutes or more against UTEP on Sunday.



Arizona has a motto this season, "overtime is our time," and so far the Wildcats have lived up to it.  Arizona's last two wins have been of the extra-play variety, as the Wildcats notched wins against TCU and NC State.  UA outscored TCU and NC State 16-11 in overtime, while shooting 6-for-11 (55 percent) from the floor in extra play.  Arizona success in overtime can be credited to outscoring the opposition 8-0 in the first 1:30 of the extra period.



The Wildcats’ win over NC State on Nov. 24 marked a milestone in the Arizona women's basketball program history.  The win over the Wolfpack gave the Wildcats back-to-back overtime wins for the first time in school history.  Arizona last played consecutive overtime games in 1980, losing to San Diego State, 66-65, at home, and defeating Northern Arizona on the road, 80-79.  Including last season, Arizona has won three-consecutive overtime games.  Before last season, Arizona was 0-7 in overtime contests from 2000-04.



Sophomore Amina Njonkou has been a monster with her play in the paint.  The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.  Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with career-highs (and game highs) of 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls State.  Against NC State, Njonkou posted 12 points and five rebounds, and against UTEP, she finished with 14 points and five rebounds.  Most impressively, Njonkou is 11-for-13 from the free throw line this season, as she shot 50 percent (6-12) from the charity stripe last year.



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 5-10 guard is averaging a team-best 15.8 points a game, as she is the only Wildcat to score in double-figures each contest.  She is also averaging team-bests of 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 steals a game.


In the last two games, Hollingsworth is averaging 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game.



No, you are not seeing double, and no it is not a typo on the roster.  Freshmen Rheya and Rhaya Neabors are twin sisters who can straight up ball.  Individually, Rheya Neabors is averaging 6.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.5 minutes a game, and Rhaya Neabors is posting 3.5 ppg, and 3.0 rpg in 21.5 mpg.  Combined, the sister duo is averaging 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.



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.



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.



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.


Arizona will face its third ranked opponent and its second top-10 ranked opponent in the early season.  So far this season, Arizona is 0-2 against ranked opposition.



Last season, the Pacific-10 Conference placed six teams in the NCAA Tournament (Stanford, Arizona State, California, USC, UCLA, Washington) the most ever fielded in one postseason in conference history.  Those same six teams from the Pac-10 are listed in the Top-25 rankings.



Arizona is 37-18 (.673) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of November, including a 25-11 (.694) mark in the month since the start of the 1999-2000 season.



Arizona will return home to host Louisiana Tech on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.



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