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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women’s hoops tries to break two-game losing streak

    Womens hoops tries to break two-game losing streak

    Practice had been over for 15 minutes. Yet, two Arizona women’s basketball players remained on the court in McKale Center Monday.

    Forward Amina Njonkou took shot after shot at the free throw line on one end of the court while guard Jessica Arnold was taking extra jump shots at the other end.

    “”Jess has really been working on her shot and it’s been paying off,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said as the Tucson native swished a jumper. “”We’re starting to put it all together as a team.””

    It’s about time.

    Arnold, who is averaging 16.5 points a game in her last two outings, and her teammates open up a season-long, four-game home stand tonight at 7 p.m. in McKale Center against USC.

    The Wildcats (7-12, 1-6 Pacific 10 Conference), who have lost eight of their last 10 games, look to snap a two-game skid against the Women of Troy (10-7, 4-3). USC is currently on a four-game winning streak after dropping the first three conference games.

    Today’s game will be the 58th meeting ever between the Wildcats and the Women of Troy, with USC owning a 41-16 series advantage and winning five of the last six, including the last three.

    “”They’re a good team, but we’re getting better too,”” said guard Ashley Whisonant.

    As the Wildcats play their last two games of the first half of conference play this weekend, the young squad comes in with new confidence.

    “”We’re definitely getting better and we’re clicking at the right time,”” said guard Joy Hollingsworth, who is averaging 22 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2.3 steals a game in the last four games. “”Right now our confidence is really high (despite) our record.””

    Coming off of a 69-62 loss at Oregon State, Arizona had a season-low 12 turnovers and a season-high 21 assists, 11 belonging to Whisonant, matching her career-high.

    Forward Rhaya Neabors also posted career-highs of 11 points and seven rebounds in the game.

    Even when they shine, the Wildcats must still fight through a dark cloud lingering overhead, plaguing the team with injuries.

    Forward Rheya Neabors, who suffered a stress fracture in her foot in the Dec. 3 win over Louisiana Tech, was released and practiced early last week but returned to the injured list just as quickly. “” She was all ready to come back,”” Bonvicini said. “”But she saw the doctor on Tuesday and said that her foot was still hurting, so she’s in a cast for another three weeks.””

    Both Neabors and center Beatrice Bofia, who is missing the entire season with a torn ACL suffered in the Red-Blue game before the season, sat with their crutches together during Monday’s practice.

    “”It’s very disappointing,”” Bonvicini said of Neabors’ relapse.

    But not to be outdone, USC has three players redshirting this year – two due to preseason injuries – and three injured roster players.

    Stepping up for the Women of Troy is center ChloǸ Kerr, who has scored in double figures in all but two of USC’s 17 games this season.

    USC also boasts the play of guard Eshaya Murphy, who had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 77-60 win over Arizona last season, and is second in the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 18.6 ppg, and first in steals with 2.53 spg.

    Grabbing 3.12 offensive boards a game, she is second in the conference only to Njonkou (3.16).

    Now that offensive problems are being settled for Arizona, the defense must be taken care of, Bonvicini said.

    “”We need to be better defensively overall,”” she said. “”Good defense makes good offense.””

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