Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Women's Basketball Hosts Perennial Power Louisiana Tech
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: December 01, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The University of Arizona women’s basketball team (4-3) returns home to host perennial power Louisiana Tech (2-4) on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. in McKale Center.  The Wildcats will play four of their next five games at home, after opening the season with five of the first seven games away from McKale Center, and look to beat the Lady Techsters for the first time in school history.



Sunday’s game against Louisiana Tech is TWINS DAY, sponsored by the Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites.  If you are a set of twins or if you and a friend dress as twins, you will receive a 2-for-1 discount!  At halftime, there will be a Twins Costume Contest with a prize awarded to the best Twins costume.



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


Live statistics and live video feeds are available at the Arizona athletics department official website:



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.



Arizona shot a season-low 35 percent from the field as No. 10 Texas A&M ran away with a 64-44 win over the Wildcats on Tuesday night before 2,545 fans in Reed Arena.


Individually for Arizona, junior Ashley Whisonant scored 14 points, 13 in the second half, to go with four assists, and senior Joy Hollingsworth scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds.


Takia Starks scored 20 points to go with seven rebounds, and Morenike Atunrase posted 18 points and six rebounds for the Aggies.


Arizona started the game out strong, using a 6-0 scoring run to take an early 6-3 lead over the Aggies at the 15:36 mark.  Freshman Rheya Neabors scored four of the team’s first six points, while pulling down three rebounds in the first four minutes.  The Wildcats then put together a 9-2 scoring run to take a 15-9 lead over Texas A&M on a Hollingsworth layup at the 12:29 mark, as Arizona started off shooting 7-of-10 from the field in the first eight minutes of the half. 


The Aggies responded with an immediate 11-0 scoring run over 2:41 to take a 20-15 lead.  Texas A&M outscored Arizona 26-5 over the final nine minutes of the half, as the Wildcats finished the half shooting 2-of-13 from the field.  The Wildcats went scoreless for 6:46 down the stretch until Hollingsworth hit a jumper in the paint with 52 seconds left in the half.


Hollingsworth scored nine first half points for Arizona, as Starks posted 10 points and Atunrase scored 16 points in the first half for Texas A&M.  Arizona finished the first half shooting 39.1 percent (9-23) from the field, as Texas A&M shot 14-of-30 from the field (46.7 percent).


Arizona started out the second half missing its first four shots before Whisonant made a layup at the 17:37 mark.  Whisonant scored the Wildcats’ first 13 points in the second half, shooting 6-of-9 from floor, as the rest of the Wildcats shot 0-for-10 over the first 10 minutes of the half.  Arizona finished shooting 32 percent (10-31) in the second half.



Arizona averages 64.6 points a game while shooting 41.4 percent (180-435) from the field, 28.0 percent (28-100) from three-point territory, and 61.0 percent (64-105) from the free throw line.  The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents 272-264 in seven games, and have tallied 67 steals (9.6 spg) off of 137 opponent turnovers.  Senior Joy Hollingsworth leads Arizona with 15.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.0 steals per game.



The Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters enter Sunday’s game with a 2-4 record in the early season, after dropping a 71-50 decision to No. 4 Tennessee at home on Tuesday.  As a team, La Tech shoots 37.7 percent (148-393) from the field, 37.5 percent (27-72) from three-point land, and 55.7 percent (73-131) from the free throw line, while averaging 66.0 points a game.  Senior guard Shan Moore leads the team with 13.5 points a game, and senior forward Ty Moore posts 13.2 points and 9.2 rebounds a game.  Head coach Chris Long enters his second season at the helm of one of the most storied programs in collegiate women’s basketball history.



Sunday’s matchup will be the fifth game in the all-time series between Arizona and Louisiana Tech, with La Tech owning a perfect 4-0 mark in the series.  These two teams last met in Tucson, on Dec. 6, 1998, an 85-72 loss for the Wildcats. 


In the four games of the La Tech-Arizona series, the Lady Techsters’ average margin of victory over the Wildcats is 15.3 points.



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 270-185 (.593) mark at Arizona and is 595-256 (.699) 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. 



Arizona should be happy to be home after a grueling road swing to open the season, playing five of the first seven games away from McKale Center.  In the 15-day period between Nov. 15-29, the Wildcats have been on the road 10 of those days.  Over that time, the Wildcats have traveled more than 6,700 miles with trips to College Station, Md., El Paso, Texas, and College Station, Texas.



Arizona had some difficulty converting layups close to the basket against No. 10 Texas A&M on Tuesday.  The Wildcats converted 12-of-30 (40 percent) of their layups against the Aggies in the game, which led to Arizona shooting a season-low 35.2 percent (19-54) from the field.  Arizona started the game 5-of-7 on layups, but finished the first half 0-for-5 in the final 11 minutes on layup conversions, and went 7-of-18 from close range in the second half.



The Wildcats suffered a case of hot shooting turning into cold shooting against the Aggies.  The Wildcats opened Tuesday’s game shooting 7-for-10 from the field, which led to a 15-9 advantage over Texas A&M at the 12:29 mark.  Arizona finished the first half 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) from the field, as the Aggies held Arizona scoreless for 6:46 while outscoring the Wildcats 26-5 the rest of the half.  The Wildcats shot 32.3 percent (10-31) in the second half and finished the game shooting 35.2 percent from the floor.



Arizona has played a very challenging schedule in the early part of the season, and things will not get any easier down the stretch.  The Wildcats' first seven games of the season have been against teams with a combined record of 33-13 (.717).



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



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



Arizona's post play has powered the Wildcat offense so far this season.  Arizona has scored 244 points in the paint, which is 54 percent of the team's offensive production.  The Wildcats are averaging 35 points in the paint each game.  In the last three games, Arizona has scored 106 of its 184 (57.6 percent) points in the paint.  Against the Aggies on Tuesday, the Wildcats scored 28 of their 44 points (63.3 percent) in the game inside the paint.



So far this season, Arizona has out-rebounded its opposition 272-264.  The Wildcats have grabbed 95 offensive rebounds, leading to 93 second-chance points.  Arizona is averaging 13.6 offensive rebounds and 13.3 second-chance points a game.



So far, Arizona has tallied 67 steals (9.6 spg) off of 137 opponent turnovers, which is the second-best mark in the Pac-10.  Arizona has converted 125 points (17.9 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), while junior Ashley Whisonant averages 1.57 spg.



Arizona's depth is certainly displayed in the team's bench play, as reserves have totaled 122 bench points in seven games (17.4 ppg).  Arizona posted double-figures in bench points in the first six games of the season before scoring just six points on Tuesday against Texas A&M.  The Arizona bench has accounted for 26.9 percent of the team's 452 points.



Arizona has some depth this year, and look for the Wildcats to take advantage of it.  In the first seven games, nine players are averaging double-figures in playing time.  In the past three games, seven Wildcats or more have averaged double-figures in pt.



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 10.0 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.  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 15.4 points a game, as she is the only Wildcat to score in double-figures each contest.  She is also averaging team-bests of 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 steals a game.


In the last three games, Hollingsworth is averaging 16.0 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.



Junior Ashley Whisonant has shown the ability to take over for the team when the Wildcats need a spark.  Against Texas A&M on Tuesday, the 5-foot-8 point guard scored 13 of her 14 points in the second half.  Her 13 second half points were the Wildcats’ first 13 points of the half, as she shot 6-of-9 from floor, while the rest of the Wildcats shot 0-for-10 over the first 10 minutes of the half.  On the season, Whisonant is averaging 11.0 points and a team-best 3.5 assists 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 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.7 minutes a game, and Rhaya Neabors is posting 3.3 ppg, and 3.0 rpg in 21.1 mpg.  Combined, the sister duo is averaging 9.0 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 72-29 (.712) since 1991 under Joan Bonvicini in the month of December, including a 58-18 (.763) 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.  Ironically, three of the four times Arizona has lost to Louisiana Tech have been in the month of December.



Arizona will host New Mexico on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

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