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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Injuries took toll on women’s season

    Arizonas Joy Hollingsworth drives to the basket during her teams 59-54 loss to ASU Feb. 24 in McKale Center. In her final season as a Wildcat, the senior led Arizona in eight categories, including points per game, 3-pointers and steals.
    Arizona’s Joy Hollingsworth drives to the basket during her team’s 59-54 loss to ASU Feb. 24 in McKale Center. In her final season as a Wildcat, the senior led Arizona in eight categories, including points per game, 3-pointers and steals.

    The outcome of the Arizona women’s basketball team’s season wasn’t what UA head coach Joan Bonvicini had in mind.

    “”I honestly thought heading into this season that we would have a much better year,”” she said.

    But although the season ended with only 11 wins and five conference wins, it was still an improvement from 2005-06, when the team finished with eight and three wins, respectively.

    “”We definitely improved from last year,”” said senior guard Joy Hollingsworth.

    “”Last year really set us back pretty bad,”” added senior guard Linda Pace. “”We didn’t know how to win again.””

    Injuries ravaged the team this season, ultimately taking a toll on their depth.

    Nearly everyone on the team at one point had to either miss games or play through an injury. Among them:

    ? Junior college transfer Beatrice Bofia was lost for the season before it even started when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during the Red-Blue Game Nov. 1.

    ? Forward Rheya Neabors had a stress fracture in her foot and was put in a protective boot, missing 17 games.

    ? Forward Suzy Bofia, Beatrice’s twin sister, also tore her ACL over the summer, but opted to hold off on surgery until the offseason. Bonvicini said Suzy would meet with team doctors this week to reevaluate her knee and determine whether surgery is the best option.

    ? A lingering shoulder problem might also force guard Jessica Arnold to have another surgery, Bonvicini said.

    The 2006 class also had a bit of a wake-up call as it tried to adjust to college basketball.

    While her sister was coming off her stress fracture, Rhaya Neabors took a lot of the brunt in the post, scoring 3.7 points per game as she played in all 32 games, including 14 starts.

    Guard Marie McGee also said it was hard adjusting to college life, with balancing school and basketball. McGee had only eight points all season in her 13 appearances, while suffering through an unspecified foot injury.

    “”Some of our newer kids really had a difficult time adjusting to just being in college,”” Bonvicini said. “”I think the Neabors did well, but what it really came down to was injuries.””

    The Wildcats also had the 14th-hardest schedule, as measured by RPI.

    They played against the likes of then-No. 1 Maryland and then-No. 25 George Washington in the first week of the season at the BTI Classic in Maryland, losing both games.

    Going into conference play, Arizona was 6-6, losing against four ranked teams.

    The season got a little rocky when the Wildcats opened Pacific 10 play and lost four in a row to three ranked teams.

    January came around and the team was only able to get one win in eight games. Arizona tripled its January win column in February.

    The month was highlighted by Bonvicini’s elusive 600th career victory on Feb. 8. She became the 17th coach in NCAA history to reach that figure.

    “”Getting Coach B her 600th win was definitely the highlight of the season, especially in a season that didn’t really go our way,”” Hollingsworth said.

    Hollingsworth led Arizona in nearly every category: starts (32), minutes (1110), field goals (189), 3-pointers (63), free throws (77), steals (68), points (518) and average points per game (16.2).

    In the last regular-season game of the year, Arizona rallied several times from 10-point deficits to make for an exciting finish against then No. 10 ASU, only to lose 59-54.

    Bonvicini said that while she is disappointed with the season outcome, she was still convinced that the Wildcats played their best basketball in the last month of the season.

    “”The last month we really started to come together as a team,”” she said. “”We started getting players back health-wise and playing smarter and harder.

    “”I’m proud of the team. I’m disappointed with the record, but we had to battle a lot of things all year.””

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