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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Women’s hoops’ defense smothers Long Beach State

    Arizona forward Whitney Fields drives past Long Beach State forward Nondi Johnson on her way to the hoop in the second half of Arizonas 77-39 win over the 49ers yesterday in McKale Center.  After ending their two-game losing streak with the win, the Wildcats play Fresno State Monday night at 7 in McKale Center to complete their nonconference schedule.
    Arizona forward Whitney Fields drives past Long Beach State forward Nondi Johnson on her way to the hoop in the second half of Arizona’s 77-39 win over the 49ers yesterday in McKale Center. After ending their two-game losing streak with the win, the Wildcats play Fresno State Monday night at 7 in McKale Center to complete their nonconference schedule.

    “”Hi Joan!””

    Arizona women’s basketball coach Joan Bonvicini has been receiving this greeting from the UA pep band before every game for the last 15 years.

    Before that, she coached Long Beach State to a 325-71 record (.820) in 12 seasons, including two trips to the NCAA Final Four.

    Last night Bonvicini’s former school matched up against her current one for the third time since she came to Arizona, and for the third time in a row, Arizona won the contest, this time 77-39.

    “”My time at Long Beach was really fun,”” said Bonvicini, who was 13-0 against Arizona during her stay at LBSU. “”I loved it there and was very fortunate to have great players and great coaches. Obviously I’m at Arizona now, but the focus is still the same: to win.””

    The Wildcats (6-5) owned as much as a 40-point lead over the 49ers (1-9) and ended up winning by 38.

    After winning the Big West Conference title last year, 4th-year LBSU head coach Mary Hegarty’s team has struggled not just against the Wildcats but all season.

    “”Mary has done well,”” Bonvicini said. “”They were great last year. This year they are really young. They will get better, just give it time.””

    Guard Joy Hollingsworth upgraded her team-best 16 points per game average, as she scored 23 points, draining 10 of 17 shots from the field.

    “”I try to do anything I can to help my team, and if that means shooting 17 shots, that’s what I’m gonna do,”” Hollingsworth said.

    Arizona was not only about offense though.

    The Wildcats allowed their opponent to score just 12 field goals, the second-least in school history only to the 11 given up against Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 8, 1995.

    It was also the second-least amount of points allowed in a game, trailing the 33 points allowed to Fullerton in that same contest.

    “”I thought we needed to set the tone defensively, and this was our best half-court defensive game we’ve played all year,”” Bonvicini said.

    Hollingsworth scored 17 of her points in the first half alone, when the game wasn’t yet a complete blowout.

    The scoreboard boasted “”0″” for each team for the first 2:18 of the game.

    The scoring drought was broken by a layup from the right side by guard Jessica Arnold, which led to a 7-0 opening spurt.

    Leading 20-12 with 7:09 left in the first half, Arnold faked a shot from the perimeter and then decided to drive. 49er guard Karina Figueroa jumped and hit Arnold in the head with her knee, snapping Arnold’s head back violently.

    Arnold was on her stomach, holding her face to the ground in pain for several moments before being rolled over and eventually helped up and taken off of the court after scoring five points in 11 minutes of play.

    “”It was really scary,”” Bonvicini said. “”Once she started moving I felt better. She’s a tough kid.””

    The hit worsened her current back pain, but Arnold said she’ll be fine.

    “”It’s all good,”” she said.

    Arizona opened up the second half strong with a 10-0 run in 3:01. Arnold returned strong as well 3:19 into the second half, collecting eight more points in the contest.

    Three of her points gave Arizona a 30-point lead as Arnold drained a shot from behind the arc with 7:11 on the clock.

    “”It was good to see her pull up and hit that 3 at the top of the key,”” Bonvicini said. “”She’s been struggling for a while. She’s feeling good again and playing like her old self.””

    Arnold scored 20 points in a 66-60 loss at Utah Saturday in a game that had 21 lead changes.

    “”I am getting back to the game of basketball and not worrying so much about hitting my shots,”” Arnold said. “”I worry more now about my teammates and let the game come to me. When our post game and guards are playing well like (last night) we can be unbelievable.””

    Arizona’s loss to Utah was largely due to excessive fouling.

    The Wildcats committed a season-high 28 fouls against Utah (5-4) as guard Ashley Whisonant and forwards Shannon Hobson and Rhaya Neabors each fouled out in the game. The Utes converted 25-of-31 (80.6 percent) from the charity stripe, including a 20-of-23 mark (87.0 percent) off of 17 fouls in the second half alone.

    “”A win heals a loss,”” Hollingsworth said. “”After the loss at Utah it was crucial for us to win this game.””

    The Wildcats, now 4-1 at home this season, will defend their home-court as they take on Fresno State (4-4) Monday at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

    “”Fresno is good,”” Bonvicini said. “”They are very athletic, they showed us that last year (in an 81-70 loss). Now it is payback time.””

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