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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Here’s what Arizona athletics did over winter break

File Photo

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon (12) looks to make a play while Boise State linebacker Ben Weaver (51) and safety Darian Thompson (4) close in during Arizona’s 38-30 loss to Boise State in the 44th Annual VIZIO Fiesta Bowl in Glendale on Dec. 31. Solomon and the Wildcats struggled throughout, ending their season in disappointing fashion.

While UA sports had a fall semester to remember, winter break was filled with disappointment.

Football lost its second game in a row, while men’s basketball, women’s basketball and hockey lost multiple times, and gymnastics lost its season opener. Here’s a rundown of everything you might have missed over the break.

Boise State spoils football’s Fiesta

On a dark and gloomy day in Glendale, UA football was upset by Boise State in its return to a major bowl game.

On Dec. 31, the then-No. 10/12 Wildcats (10-4) lost the Vizio Fiesta Bowl 38-30 to then-No. 20/21 Boise State. It was Arizona’s first major bowl since the 1994 Fiesta Bowl.

The Broncos (12-2) opened the game with 21 unanswered points in the first 10 minutes.

“They executed a whole lot better,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said right after the game about the UA’s start. “It was like it was against air. I mean, it wasn’t even challenged.”

After Arizona trailed 31-17 at halftime, the Wildcats rallied, holding Boise State to zero touchdowns on offense, but UA quarterback Anu Solomon was sacked on the Bronco 10-yard line on the last play.

The loss snapped Rodriguez’s two-game bowl win streak at Arizona and his 11-game, nonconference win streak as UA head coach.

On the plus side, UA linebacker Scooby Wright won three national player of the year awards: the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Rotary Lombardi Award.

Men’s basketball splits road trips

First, Arizona men’s basketball saw its streak end, and then they suffered a historic loss. The No. 10 Wildcats (14-2, 2-1 Pac-12 Conference) went 5-2 over the winter break, but lost two of their last four games.

Near the start of the break, Arizona beat Michigan, 80-53, and Oakland, 101-64, at home, before besting UTEP 60-55 on the road. Four days later on Dec. 23, the Wildcats lost 71-67 at UNLV, which ended their nation-leading, regular-season nonconference winning streak at 39 games.

Right after the game, when Arizona head coach Sean Miller was asked about the streak ending, he said, “It’s good.”

“When you get that sick feeling when they storm the court — how it feels when the horn goes off — there’s nothing that simulates why you want to win more than that feeling,” Miller said.

The Wildcats took a break for Christmas, didn’t play for another 12 days and came back with a new lineup, defeating ASU 73-49 at home.

“Losing to UNLV was a good thing for our team in that it really made us refocus and realize that even though we’re a talented team, we’re not invincible,” UA forward Brandon Ashley said right after the ASU game.

Then, Arizona beat Oregon 80-62 in its first Pac-12 road game. Point guard T.J. McConnell scored a UA career-high 21 points as the Wildcats won for the first time at Matthew Knight Arena.

However, three days later at Oregon State, the Wildcats lost 58-56. Arizona had won seven in a row against the Beavers, who took down a top-10 team for the first time since upsetting No. 3 Arizona in 2000.

After the ASU game, forward Craig Victor decided to transfer to LSU. The four-star recruit from New Orleans played in eight games and averaged 3.1 points per game and 1.1 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game.

Hockey swept by Oklahoma schools

Last week, Arizona hockey opened 2015 by picking up where it left off in 2014: on the losing side of the scoreboard.

The Oklahoma schools swept the No. 20 Wildcats (9-13-0) at the Tucson Convention Center Arena. On Thursday, No. 2 Central Oklahoma beat Arizona 6-3. Then, on Friday and Saturday, No. 6 Oklahoma beat the UA 5-3 and 6-4, respectively.

The Wildcats have lost six in a row, including the last five at home.

Women’s hoops opens Pac-12 0-4

Over the break, Arizona women’s basketball saw its four-game win streak snapped before struggling in Pac-12 play.

The Wildcats (7-8, 0-4 Pac-12) opened the winter break by defeating Southern University, 56-45, and UAB, 49-44, at home. However, Arizona lost 72-60 at Stephen F. Austin in its last game before Christmas.

While Arizona began the conference season with three straight home games, it lost all three conference home games so far — 81-70 to Washington State, 79-69 to No. 23 Washington and 88-41 to No. 18 ASU.

Two days later on Jan. 10, in the return leg of the rivalry series in Tempe, the UA fell behind by a mere three points at the half but lost again to the Sun Devils, 71-54.

Gymcats drop opener

Arizona gymnastics opened the season with a 196.225-194.375 loss at No. 4 Alabama. The Gymcats earned a 48.950 on the bars and 48.750 on the vault, leading after the second rotation.

“There were some amazing performances, and we definitely learned a lot about some girls [Saturday night],” head coach Bill Ryden said in a press release.

The Gymcats scored 47.850 on the floor and 48.825 on the beam. Jessie Sisler won the beam with a personal best score of 9.950.
Allison Flores was the sole UA gymnast to compete in the all-around, which she finished second in with a 39.050.

Swimming and diving shines

Arizona swimming and diving teams were a rare bright spot for the UA over the break. On Jan. 2, the No. 11 men upset No. 8 Missouri 160.50-101.50, while the No. 14 women beat the No. 16 Mizzou females 175.00-106.00. The UA women also beat Oregon State (184.00-97.00), NAU (191.00-102.00) and New Mexico State (198.00-89.00) at that meet.

For the women, Bonnie Brandon, Emma Schoettmer, Elizabeth Pepper and Taylor Schick all won two events. Brandon, Schoettmer and Schick also comprised the winning 200 medley relay team.

For the men, Nick Hogsed, Kevin Cordes and Rasmus Skjaerpe each won two events.

Right before Christmas, three Arizona divers excelled at the USA Diving Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

Samantha Pickens won the women’s 1 meter with a score of 566.35. She finished sixth in the 3 meter with a score of 852.40.

Rafael Quintero finished fourth in the men’s platform with a score of 1234.60, while Dominic Ricotta took 13th with a 986.70.


Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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