Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Women Face Central Connecticut State in Shootout Title Game
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: November 23, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: The Arizona women’s basketball team (2-0) faces Central Connecticut State (1-1) in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout at 5 p.m. (AKST) Wednesday, Nov. 23, at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona tied a school record with 30 assists as it easily defeated Furman 96-63 in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout Tuesday night. The Wildcats shot 51 percent from the field, 35 percent from three-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line on the game, while Furman connected on 33, 23 and 69, respectively, on the night. Arizona also out-rebounded the Lady Paladins 45 to 34. Junior Joy Hollingsworth led all players with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting (62 percent). She also added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Sophomore Ashley Whisonant tallied her first career double-double, finishing with career highs of 21 points and 11 assists. She also added five rebounds and two steals. Senior Natalie Jones, playing in front of a home crowd, finished with 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Freshman Whitney Fields rounded out the group of Wildcats in double-digit scoring with 11 points. She also grabbed nine boards.

On the season, the Wildcats are led by Hollingsworth, who averages 21.0 points. Jones adds 16.5 points and 4.5 assists, while Whisonant averages 15.5 points, 8.0 assists and 3.0 steals. Sophomore Ch?© Oh rounds out the group of double-figure scoring with 12.0 per game, while freshman Whitney Fields boasts a team-high 9.5 rebounds per game average. As a team, Arizona is shooting 47 percent from the field and out-rebounding its opponents 43.5 to 35.0.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: Central Connecticut State sophomore Jamilah Corbitt scored a career-high 18 points as the Blue Devils defeated Alaska Anchorage 77-51 in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. CCSU nabbed 16 steals and forced 29 UAA turnovers in the win. Junior forward Gabriella Guegbelet scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

CCSU is led this season by Guegbelet, who averages 15.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. Junior Kim Boone adds 11.0 points per game, while Corbitt averages 10. As a team, the Blue Devils are shooting 39 percent from the field and being out-rebounded 46.5 to 34.5.

SERIES SHORTS: Wednesday’s meeting is the first-ever between Arizona and Central Connecticut State.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Begun as a four-team event in 1980, the Northern Lights Invitational was suspended in 1998. Then on Sept. 3, 1998, it was announced that the nationally acclaimed Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout would encompass a four-team women’s tourney as well. With the merger, the women’s Shootout coincides with the men’s eight-team format held at the 8,700-capacity Sullivan Arena in Midtown Anchorage, providing more visibility for the women’s program.

In November 1999, the women’s Shootout made its debut, with underdog UAA taking Louisville and Northern Arizona to the wire before falling, and Kansas capturing the title game over Louisville.

INJURY UPDATE: Freshman Amina Njonkou has a stress fracture in her right foot and is out another 2-5 weeks.

HOMECOMING FOR JONES: Senior Natalie Jones is at home during the Great Alaska Shootout. The guard was part of three state champion teams at East Anchorage High School, during which time the Thunderbirds posted a 102-8 mark. Jones was the 2002 USA Today Alaska Player of the Year She was also named MVP of the Alaska Basketball Development Program.

HOLLINGSWORTH A JOY IN WILDCAT DEBUT: After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, junior Joy Hollingsworth finally made her debut as a Wildcat in last Friday’s win over Loyola Marymount. In her two games at Arizona, the guard is averaging a team-best 21 points per game on 61 percent shooting.

FIELDS CRASHING THE BOARDS: Freshman Whitney Fields is making her presence known immediately as a Wildcat as she is leading the team in rebounding. In two games, the forward is averaging 9.5 boards in just 18.5 minutes per game.

JONES SCORES 750TH CAREER POINT: Senior Natalie Jones scored her 750th career point in Arizona’s win over Furman Tuesday in her hometown of Anchorage. The senior is averaging 16.5 points per game for the Wildcats this season.

CATS PICKED TO FINISH SIXTH, SEVENTH IN PAC-10: Arizona was picked to finish sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Wildcats garnered 42 points, just one point behind fifth-place Oregon. In the media poll, Arizona was picked to finish seventh in the conference, receiving 59 votes.

GOING POLLING: Six of Arizona’s 2005-06 opponents (Stanford, Maryland, UCLA, USC, Utah and Arizona State) were nationally ranked in the various preseason polls. Pac-10 power Stanford is ranked as high as No. 8, while Pac-10 teams USC and Arizona State are ranked in all four polls. Arizona received votes in both the Associated Press and ESPN/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) polls.

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 a challenging schedule that includes 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.

CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior Natalie Jones ranks sixth all-time at Arizona in free throw percentage (.758), eighth in three-point field goals attempted (257), and ninth in three-point field goals made (74).

WILDCATS ON THE RADIO: All of Arizona’s games this season will be broadcast on Tucson’s Jolt, KJLL 1330 AM, the radio home of Arizona women’s basketball. With Paul Johnson returning for his 11th year as the Wildcats’ play-by-play announcer, the Jolt will broadcast every game, home and away.

WILDCATS ON TELEVISION: The Wildcats have five games this season that will be broadcast on FSN:

Saturday, Nov. 26 - 7:30 p.m. vs. Utah (FSN Arizona)

Saturday, Dec. 31 - 4 p.m. vs. Washington (FSN Northwest)

Sunday, Jan. 8 - noon vs. USC (FSN)

Saturday, Jan. 14 - noon vs. Oregon (FSN)

Sunday, Jan. 22 - 1 p.m. (PST) at California (FSN)

In addition, the Wildcats’ games at home against Stanford (Feb. 18) and at Arizona State (Feb. 25) are "wild card" games that could get picked up in the Pac-10 television package.

UP NEXT: Arizona returns home to host No. 20 Utah for a 7:30 p.m. game this Saturday, Nov. 26. The game will be televised live on FSN Arizona, with a special emphasis on raising awareness of the Shawntinice Polk Endowment Fund. The first 2,000 fans at the game will receive "Polkey, 00" wrist bands, compliments of FSN Arizona.

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