COMING UP: The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (5-4) hits the road to take on the Utah Utes (4-4) on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The Wildcats will face an opponent from the Mountain West Conference for the second-consecutive game, and for the third time this season.
TV: The game will be televised by the Mountain West Sports Network.
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.
BEATRICE BOFIA OUT FOR SEASON: Junior Beatrice Bofia will undergo knee surgery and will miss the remainder of the season, head coach Joan Bonvicini announced Friday. The 6-foot-7 center will have surgery performed to repair an ACL tear in her left knee. Bofia has not played in any of the Wildcats' first seven games this season after suffering the injury during pregame warm-ups of the Red & Blue game on Nov. 1.
NEW MEXICO RECAP: No. 23-ranked New Mexico shot a season-high 52.9 percent from the field, including a 9-of-16 mark from three point range for a 76-63 win over Arizona on Tuesday night in McKale Center.
Arizona finished with a 42.1 percent mark (24-57) from the field in the game, but only managed to shoot 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from behind the arc.
Individually from the Wildcats, junior Suzy Bofia scored a career-high 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, and sophomore Amina Njonkou added 13 points and six rebounds. Junior Ashley Whisonant scored 12 points, and junior Shannon Hobson finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
New Mexico senior Julie Briody scored a career-best 25 points, and senior Katie Montgomery added 18 points, as the two combined to shoot 15-for-25 (60.0 percent) from the field, including a 7-for-13 (53.8 percent) mark from three point land.
The Lobos shot 65.2 (15-23) from the field in the first half, including a 6-of-8 mark from three point range, and led 38-31 at halftime.
New Mexico raced out to a 16-4 lead in the first 5:21 of the game, starting out 7-of-9 from the field. Arizona responded with a 17-7 scoring run over 6:24 to cut the Lobo lead to 29-27 at the 3:29 mark, but gave up a three with 30 seconds left in the half to trail by seven points going into the locker room. The Wildcats finished the first half shooting 44.4 percent (12-27) from the field.
Montgomery was a perfect 5-for-5, including a 3-for-3 mark from behind the arc for 13 first half points for New Mexico.
In the second half, New Mexico used a 15-4 run over 4:51 midway to take a 24 point lead at 73-49 with 4:04 left to play. New Mexico shot 42.9 percent (12-28) from the field in the second half, but limited Arizona to a 40.0 percent (12-30) mark from the floor.
A QUICK LOOK AT ARIZONA: Arizona averages 65.4 points a game while shooting 40.7 percent (228-560) from the field, 24.8 percent (33-133) from three-point range, and 65.8 percent (100-152) from the free throw line. The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents 348-335 in nine games, and have tallied 85 steals (9.4 spg) off of 181 opponent turnovers. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game.
ABOUT THE UTES: The University of Utah Utes enter Saturday’s game with a 4-4 overall record, and winners three straight. The Utes are 2-1 at home this season, beating Long Beach State (66-43) and USC (70-66) in their last two games in the Huntsman Center. As a team, the Utes shoot 40.6 percent (179-441) from the field, 33.6 percent (44-131) from three point range, and 68.5 percent (76-111) from the free throw line, while averaging 59.8 points a game. Sophomore Morgan Warburton leads the team with 14.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game, and sophomore Joh-Teena Filipe adds 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. Head coach Elaine Elliott is in her 24th season at the helm of the Utah program.
THE UTAH-ARIZONA SERIES: Saturday’s matchup will be the 12th meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Utes on the hardwood, with Utah owning 9-2 series advantage. The Utes beat Arizona, 66-63, on Nov. 26 of last season in McKale Center. The Wildcats are 0-3 all-time at Utah.
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 271-186 (.593) mark at Arizona and is 596-257 (.699) in 27 years as a head coach, needing just four 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.
ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS: Arizona took on its fourth ranked team of the season on Tuesday against the No. 23-ranked Lobos, and played well despite the loss. The game wasn’t decided by Arizona’s failure to execute, it was decided by New Mexico’s ability to hit shot-after-shot. The Lobos entered Tuesday night shooting 39.5 percent from the floor, and 32.3 percent from three point range on the season. Against the Wildcats, New Mexico caught fire, finishing the game with a season-best 52.9 shooting percentage, including a 56.3 percent mark (13-18) from three point range. New Mexico shot 65. 2 percent from the field in the first half, while knocking down 6-of-8 treys. Arizona shot 42.1 percent in the game, but couldn’t match the hot hands of the Lobos.
The 76 points and 52.9 shooting percentage where both Arizona opponent season highs. New Mexico senior Julie Briody scored a career-best 25 points, also an Arizona opponent season high.
A TALE OF TWO TEAMS: Obviously, there are some major statistical differences when the Wildcats win games compared to when the Wildcats lose games. As stated, here they are. In the five games Arizona has won, the Wildcats are averaging 71. 2 points a game, shooting 40.7 percent (136-334) from the field, 65-of-100 (65.0 percent) from the line, and are out-rebounding the opposition 229-184. In the four games Arizona has lost, the Wildcats are averaging 58.2 points per game, shooting 40.7 percent (92-226) from the field, 35-of-52 (67.3 percent) from the free throw line, while being out-rebounded 119-151 by the opposition.
ROAD TESTED: Arizona’s road slate so far this season can be summed up in one word: brutal. So far this season, the Wildcats’ three true road contests have all been against undefeated teams. Arizona played at No. 1 Maryland (3-0), at then-undefeated UTEP (4-0), and then-No. 10 ranked Texas A&M (5-0). Arizona is 1-2 on the season in road contests after beating UTEP, 72-68. In road contests, the Wildcats are averaging 59.0 points a game, while shooting 42.7 percent (73-171) from the field, 28.2 percent (11-39) from three point range, and 54.1 percent (20-37) from the free throw line.
NOTHING BUT RIM: Arizona will look to improve on its field goal percentage on Saturday after struggling from the floor in the last three games. In its last three contests, the Wildcats shot a combined 37.4 percent (67-179) from the field, and 15.9 percent (7-44) from three point range, while opponents are shooting 43.6 percent (75-172) from the floor, and 34.7 percent (17-49) from behind the arc in that span.
FREE THROWS = FREE POINTS: Although Arizona hasn't put the ball in the basket from the floor, the Wildcats have done a solid job of getting to the line and knocking down their free throws. In the last three games, Arizona shot 74.1 percent (40-54) from the charity stripe, a mark well above the team's season average of 65.8 percent (100-152). The Wildcats made a season-high 23 free throws on 31 attempts against Louisiana Tech on Sunday, and shot a season-best 81.3 percent (13-16) from the line against New Mexico. UA was shooting 61.2 percent (60-98) before the previous three contests.
NO LONG DISTANCE SERVICE: Hopefully the Wildcats’ cell phones work off the court, because on the court, Arizona has not been able to connect from long distance. In the last three games, Arizona is shooting 15.9 percent (7-44) from three point range. So far this season, Arizona has shot 30 percent or lower from behind the arc in seven of its nine contests, while making three or less treys on six occasions. The Wildcats are shooting 24.8 percent (33-133) from three point range on the season.
NO CUPCAKES: Arizona has played a very challenging schedule in the early part of the season, and things will not get any easier down the stretch. Entering Saturday’s game, the Wildcats' first nine games of the season have been against teams with a combined record of 49-24 (.671).
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
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
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 in 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
16 points: 21-5 run to UTEP in the final 3:37 of the game
13 points: 16-3 run to Louisiana Tech in 5:29 in the first half
12 points: 16-4 run to New Mexico in 5:21 to start the first half
11 points: 15-4 run to New Mexico in 4:51 midway through the second half
POST POWER: Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season. Arizona has scored 296 points in the paint, which is 50 percent of the team's total offensive production. The Wildcats are averaging 32.8 points in the paint each game, and had 30 such points against New Mexico on Tuesday.
ON THE REBOUND: So far this season, Arizona has out-rebounded its opposition 348-335. The Wildcats have grabbed 129 offensive rebounds, leading to 122 second-chance points. Arizona is averaging 14.3 offensive rebounds and 13.6 second-chance points a game, and has posted double-figures in offensive rebounds in seven of the first nine games. Against New Mexico, the Wildcats grabbed 14 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points.
WATCH YOUR POCKETS: Arizona has tallied 85 steals (9.4 spg) on the season off of 181 opponent turnovers, converting 167 points (18.5 ppg) off of turnovers so far this season. Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with a mark of 3.0 spg (second in the Pac-10).
SPLINTERS OUT: Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 162 bench points in nine games (18.0 ppg). Arizona has posted double-figures in bench points eight of the first nine games this season, as the bench has accounted for 27.5 percent of the team's 589 points.
LOTTA ACTION: Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it. In nine games, nine players are averaging double-figures in playing time. In the past five games, seven Wildcats or more have posted double-figures in playing time.
STAT STUFFER: Sophomore Amina Njonkou has been a monster with her play in the paint. The 6-foot-1 forward is averaging 9.8 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds a game. She leads the team with 27 offensive rebounds, and is shooting 50.0 percent (35-70) from the field, and 75.0 (18-24) percent from the free throw line. Njonkou recorded the first double-double of her career with career-highs (and game highs) of 17 points and 11 rebounds against Nicholls State, and has recorded five rebounds or more in eight of her nine games.
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 5-10 guard is averaging a team-best 15.1 points a game, as she scored 22 points on three different occasions. She is also averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 steals a game. Against New Mexico, her streak of eight-consecutive double-figure scoring games came to an end with a season low point total of six. Hollingsworth is shooting 39.0 percent from the field (28-123), and averages about 14 shots from the field a game.
Interestingly enough, in Arizona’s three road games this season Hollingsworth is averaging 19.0 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. Two of her three 22 point performances have come on the road, at No. 1 Maryland and at UTEP.
ON POINT: Junior Ashley Whisonant has upped her game recently, scoring in double-figures in three-straight contests. The 5-foot-8 Bowie, Md., native led Arizona with 14 points against Texas A&M, and a career-high 22 points against Louisiana Tech, and finished with 12 points against New Mexico. On the season, Whisonant is averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 3.2 assists per game.
STEPPING UP: Junior Shannon Hobson has been a valuable force in the paint for the Wildcats this season. Against Louisiana Tech, the 6-foot-2 forward-center scored a season-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds in 20 minutes of reserve work. Against New Mexico, Hobson got her first start of the season, and posted 10 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes of action. On the season, Hobson is averaging 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds a contest, while shooting 56.8 percent (21-37) from the field in 18.2 minutes of play.
PLAYING BIG: Junior Suzy Bofia showed her ability to score down low on Tuesday against New Mexico, finishing with a career-best 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, her best outing of the season. The 6-foot-6 center entered Tuesday’s game averaging 5.6 points and shooting 31.7 percent from the floor, but missed just two shots against a Lobo front line that featured three players standing 6-foot-3 or taller. On the season, Suzy is averaging 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game.
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 0-4 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 73-30 (.709) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 59-19 (.756) 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 1-1 so far in the month of December.
UP NEXT: Arizona will host Long Beach State on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.