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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cats look to snap 6-game skid

    While injuries have decimated the Wildcats lineup this season, a strong point has been senior Natalie Jones, who has led the team as a senior with 14.7 points per game.
    While injuries have decimated the Wildcats’ lineup this season, a strong point has been senior Natalie Jones, who has led the team as a senior with 14.7 points per game.

    If anything can go wrong, it will.

    If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.

    Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

    A sampling of Murphy’s laws defines the season for the Arizona women’s basketball team. Hampered by injuries that reduced the lineup to just seven players last week, the Wildcats (7-18, 3-12 Pacific 10 Conference) will just be beginning to mend when they host California (15-9, 7-7) tonight at 7 in McKale Center.

    “”We’ll get better, we’ll definitely get better,”” freshman guard Malia O’Neal said. “”It can’t get any worse.””

    On Saturday, the Wildcats welcomed back O’Neal and her backcourt mate, Jessica Arnold, a sophomore, to their depleted lineup though the two were largely ineffective in limited action from not having played after suffering concussions the week before.

    “”They hadn’t practiced in over a week,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”Their conditioning wasn’t bad, but it’s different when you don’t play,””

    Said Arnold: “”It was really hard because basically, we played the day of the game, and that’s the first time we did.””

    Sophomore forward ChǸ Oh remains out after suffering two concussions in as many weeks earlier this season. She will miss her fifth and sixth straight games this weekend.

    However, freshman forward Amina Njonkou has been cleared to play and could see a couple minutes, said Arizona women’s basketball media relations director Hope Nsiah-Kumi. Njonkou has played in just four games this season due to a lingering foot injury.

    When combined with subpar performance from her team’s post game, the injuries forced Bonvicini to use a lineup of five guards in the Oregon State game Saturday, something that led to her installation of a press that forced 22 Beaver turnovers. That trend may continue tonight against the Golden Bears.

    “”At times, we’ll have to (press),”” Bonvicini said. “”It depends on how the flow of the game is and how many players we have. A lot of it’s about depth.

    “”Some of the things that I’d like to do, I can’t, in terms of personnel issues.””

    Even in the midst of their second losing streak of five or more games this season, the team remains focused on the game at hand, approaching the Bears with optimism.

    “”This whole season has been pretty rough on us,”” said Arnold, “”but we’ve worked hard, and we’re going to out there against Cal and look for a win.””

    Having already beaten Cal on its home court earlier this season, 80-76 on Jan. 22, there was extra reason for the air of cautious confidence that settled over Wildcat practices this week.

    “”I think we know what kind of game and what kind of energy and expectations we need to bring to the game,”” senior forward Anna Chappell said. “”They’re not a team where because we won before we can just walk in and win again.””

    That game, in which five Wildcat players scored in double-figures, was the last time Arizona found itself in the win column, as the team has dropped six straight since. Even so, senior guard Natalie Jones, who leads the team in scoring with 14.7 points per game, said she thinks the game will come down to one thing.

    “”It’s just something that we have to keep that same mentality,”” she said, “”and do exactly what we did in that game with how we executed our plays.””

    As they look to do just that tonight, Arizona might amend Murphy’s laws: If seemingly everything has already gone wrong – even after nothing else could go wrong – and gone from bad to worse, something has to give.

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