Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Wildcat Women Head to Pac-10 Tournament
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 28, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: The No. 9-seed Arizona women’s basketball team (7-21, 3-15) faces eighth-seeded Oregon (14-14, 5-13) in the first round of the 2006 State Farm Pac-10 Women’s Basketball Tournament at 8:15 p.m. (PST) this Friday, March 3, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The game will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM in Tucson.

TEAM TRAVEL: The Arizona women’s basketball team will depart Tucson at 11:50 a.m. Thursday, March 2, and arrive in San Jose, Calif., at 2 p.m. (PST).

TEAM HEADQUARTERS: Arizona will stay at the Fairmont Hotel, 170 South Market Street, San Jose, CA, 95113. The telephone is (408) 998-1900.

POST-GAME INTERVIEWS: Head Coach Joan Bonvicini and all Arizona players will be available to talk to the media following a cooling-off period. The cooling-off period is five minutes for the winning team and 15 minutes for the losing team.

ARIZONA AND THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT: Arizona holds a 4-4 record all-time in Pac-10 Tournament play. Last season, the fifth-seeded Wildcats fell to No. 4-seed USC 74-66 in the first round.

In 2004, as the No. 2 seed, the Wildcats defeated No. 7 Oregon State 81-58 and No. 6 Washington 77-55 before falling in the championship game to top-seeded Stanford, 51-46. Arizona had a 31-23 halftime lead over the Cardinal, but was limited to just 15 points on 23 percent shooting in the second half. Senior Aimee Grzyb and sophomore Shawntinice Polk were named to the all-tournament team.

In 2003, the third-seeded Wildcats plowed through No. 6 Oregon State (70-56) and No. 2 Washington (74-51) before coming up short against No. 1-seed Stanford (59-49) in the championship game. Wildcats Krista Warren, Dee-Dee Wheeler and Polk were named to the all-tournament team.

That was a far better showing than Arizona had during the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament on the Oregon campus in 2002. Entering tourney action as the No. 6 seed, the Cats lost to No. 3 seed and eventual tournament champion Arizona State, 66-58, in their first game on March 2, 2002.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: The Wildcats suffered their worst loss of the season, its ninth-straight, in an 81-45 defeat at No. 11/13 Arizona State Saturday. Arizona shot a season-low 24 percent from the field, 12 percent from three-point range and 52 percent from the free throw line on the game, compared to the 52, 42 and 75 percent, respectively, of Arizona State. The Sun Devils out-rebounded the Wildcats 52 to 31. Arizona won the turnover battle 13 to 17. Junior Joy Hollingsworth, who was held scoreless in the first meeting between the two teams last December, led the Wildcats with 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior Natalie Jones added 13 points. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant tallied six points, but was held to just 16 minutes due to an ankle injury suffered in the first half.

Jones leads Arizona this season with 15.0 points per game. Hollingsworth adds 14.3 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds per game, while Whisonant averages 13.5 points. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 39 percent from the field, compared to the 48 percent of their opponents. They are also being out-rebounded 34.2 to 40.1.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: UCLA spoiled Senior Night at McArthur Court last Saturday, edging Oregon 66-65 in both teams’ final regular-season game. Senior Brandi Davis scored 15 points and Carolyn Ganes had 14 points - all in the second half - for the Ducks, who closed out the regular season on a five-game losing skid. Oregon had just eight turnovers on the game, but was out-rebounded 39 to 29.

On the season, the Ducks are led by Gabrielle Richards, who averages 10.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. As a team, Oregon is shooting 42 percent from the field on the season, compared to the 36 percent of its opponents. The Ducks are also out-rebounding their opponents 37.2 to 36.5.

SERIES SHORTS: Arizona trails the all-time series with Oregon 18-24. The last time the two teams met, on Feb. 9, Arizona lost 78-58 in Eugene. The Wildcats are 11-10 at home, 7-13 away and 0-1 at a neutral site vs. the Ducks. This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the Pac-10 Tournament.

INJURY UPDATE: Sophomore Ch?© Oh suffered her second concussion in as many weeks at Washington State on Jan. 28 and is out for the rest of the season. Junior Linda Pace suffered a left knee injury against Washington State on Dec. 29 and is out for the rest of the season.

RANKING IN THE PAC-10: As a team, Arizona ranks in the bottom half of the conference in every statistical category but free throw percentage (fourth), turnover margin (fifth), offensive rebounds (fifth), steals (fifth) and three-point field goal average (fifth).

Individually, several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in various categories. Senior Natalie Jones is third in free throw percentage (.818), fourth in steals (2.3), sixth in minutes per game (35.1), eighth in scoring (15.0) and 10th in three-point field goal average (1.5). Junior Joy Hollingsworth is fifth in three-point field goal average (2.2) and seventh in minutes per game (33.7). Sophomore Ashley Whisonant is seventh in assists (3.5) and ninth in assist/turnover ratio (0.9). Freshman Whitney Fields is 10th in offensive rebounds (2.3).

SINGLE SEASON RECORDS: Arizona has already set several single season records, including three-point field goals made (162), three-point field goals attempted (521), fewest turnovers (482), highest opponent field goal percentage (.478) and fewest opponent steals (178).

Additionally, several Wildcats rank in the Top 10 in the Arizona single season record books. Senior Natalie Jones ranks fourth in both minutes per game (35.1) and free throw percentage (.818), and ninth in free throws made (117). In her first season as a Wildcat, junior Joy Hollingsworth ranks third in three-point field goals attempted (183) and sixth in three-point field goals made (61).

SINGLE GAME RECORDS: During the season, the Wildcats have set several new marks in the single game record books, including most assists (30 vs. Furman, 11/22/05), fewest rebounds (20 at Washington, 1/26/06), fewest opponent steals (0 by Washington State, 12/29/05) and fewest opponent fouls (7 by Maryland, 12/11/05).

HOLLINGSWORTH APPROACHES 1,000 POINTS: Junior Joy Hollingsworth, who played two seasons at San Francisco (2002-03, 2003-04), is approaching 1,000 career points. The guard currently has 990 - 589 in her two seasons at USF and 401 this year as a Wildcat.

JONES STARTS 93RD STRAIGHT GAME: Senior Natalie Jones started her 93rd consecutive game at Arizona State last Saturday. On her career, the guard has started 97 total games.

LOSSES PILING UP: Though Arizona’s 21 losses this season are the most in the Joan Bonvicini era (1991-present), it has definitely been done before. Arizona has matched the 21-game losing mark three other times (1980-81, 1981-82 and 1984-85). The worst season in the history of Arizona women’s basketball came in 1987-88, when the Wildcats posted a 5-23 mark. Arizona was also 5-23 in 1987-88.

In addition, in Bonvicini’s first season, though her team had a better overall record (9-19), it matched the record from this year in Pac-10 play at 3-15.

SHOOTING SORROWS LEAD TO LOSSES: In 20 of their 21 losses this season, the Wildcats have had a worse shooting percentage than their opponents. In fact, three of the four times Arizona has produced a better field goal percentage than its opponent (Furman, Lehigh, Chicago State), the team has also won the game. The only time the Wildcats shot better than their opponent and lost was at Washington.

HALFTIME SCORE INDICATIVE OF FINAL RESULT: In Arizona’s 28 games this season, the halftime score has been indicative of the final result 24 times. The Wildcats are 2-19 when trailing at the intermission and 5-2 when leading. The only two games Arizona won after trailing at halftime were at home against Oregon and at California. Conversely, the two games the Wildcats lost after leading at halftime were against Central Connecticut State and Utah.

WILDCAT TRIFECTA: Senior Natalie Jones, junior Joy Hollingsworth and sophomore Ashley Whisonant lead the Wildcats this season. The trio account for 64 percent of the team’s points. All three have reached double-digit scoring in 24 of the 28 games.

LACK OF SIZE EXPOSED: With the death of 6-5 Shawntinice Polk and the medical redshirt of 6-2 Shannon Hobson, Arizona is left without much size inside. As a result, the Wildcats have been out-rebounded in 22 of their 28 games this season. In those 22 games, the Wildcats have managed just 32.3 rebounds to their opponents’ 42.0 (-9.8).

JONES JOINS 1,000-POINT, 500 REBOUND CLUB: When she grabbed a board at the 1:41 mark in the first half against USC on Feb. 2, senior Natalie Jones joined a prestigious group. She became just the seventh Wildcat ever to total 1,000 points and 500 rebounds on her career. She now has 1,137 points and 549 rebounds over her four seasons. She notched her 1,000 point on a free throw at the 2:02 mark of the second half at Washington State on Jan. 28.

CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior Natalie Jones is first all-time at Arizona in games played (124), second in free throw percentage (.773), fourth in personal fouls (314), fifth in three-point field goals attempted (380) and free throws made (306), sixth in three-point field goals made (115), minutes played (3,530) and steals (191), seventh in games started (97) and free throws attempted (396), eighth in rebounds (549) and minutes per game (28.5) and 12th in scoring (1,137).

PAC-10 ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS: Arizona boasts several of the Pac-10’s active career statistical leaders. Senior Natalie Jones ranks second in assists (299), third in steals (191), sixth in scoring (1,137) and three-point field goals made (115), and seventh in rebounds (549). Junior Joy Hollingsworth ranks fifth in three-point field goals made (129), seventh in steals (121), eighth in scoring (990), ninth in rebounds (470) and 11th in assists (156).

STACKED PAC: As a conference, the Pac-10 finished last season ranked as the third toughest conference in the nation after sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. Finishing ahead of the Pac-10 were the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Wildcats have played a challenging schedule that included 12 games against eight teams (Arizona State, Maryland, Oregon, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, USC, Utah and Wisconsin-Green Bay) that made it to the NCAA Tournament last year. Of those teams, six advanced to the second round, while Arizona State made it to the Sweet 16 and Stanford to the Elite Eight.

UP NEXT: Should Arizona defeat the Ducks, it will face top-seeded Stanford at 5 p.m. (PST) Saturday, March 4.

WB Welcome Coach Barnes