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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Conference standings at stake for women’s hoops

    Arizona guard Tasha Dickey jumps up for a shot in a 65-60 Wildcat win over Oregon in McKale Center on Jan. 31. The Arizona womens basketball team will play its last two home games of the season this weekend.
    Arizona guard Tasha Dickey jumps up for a shot in a 65-60 Wildcat win over Oregon in McKale Center on Jan. 31. The Arizona women’s basketball team will play its last two home games of the season this weekend.

    Washington at Arizona

    What motivates a 9-17 team after losing four of its last five games from an injury-plagued limited bench?

    For the Arizona women’s basketball team, its Pacific 10 Conference tournament hopes.

    The Wildcats bring a double-shot of ambition tonight – playing not only for their final home crowd of the season, but for survival in the fight for conference standings against the Washington schools.

    Washington (11-15, 6-8 Pac-10) enters the 7 p.m. game in McKale Center in sixth place in the conference – three games ahead of eighth-place Arizona (9-16, 3-11). Jumping into the Pac-10 tournament’s first round without a preliminary game would require the Wildcats to sweep this crucial weekend and hope for the best around the conference to earn a sixth seed, which would play the third-place team March 8.

    “”The good thing about playing in the conference tournament – we want to play on Saturday (March 8),”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”In order to do that, we want to win some games here.””

    Guard Tasha Dickey is expected to play tonight, Bonvicini said, after she missed last weekend’s Stanford and California games with an ankle injury.

    With the season-ending concussion that guard Marie McGee suffered at Washington on Jan. 26, Bonvicini was forced to start four forwards against California. As a result, guard Ashley Whisonant managed a season-low five points as Arizona’s only pure ball-handler.

    “”We’re down

    We’re down people and it
    definitely affected us. We were disappointed but I think the players are refocused.

    – Joan Bonvicini,
    head coach

    people and it definitely affected us,”” Bonvicini said. “”We were disappointed but I think the players are refocused.””

    Forward Amina Njonkou also sees Dickey’s return as a ripple affect into her game, in terms of maintaining the post position at all times, rather than Njonkou uncomfortably playing a guard’s role.

    Dickey, a freshman, said she plans on ignoring the pain in her
    ankle tonight.

    “”I think it’s really important because Ashley (Whisonant) can’t do everything by herself,”” Dickey said of her return. “”She needs some people she can depend on and guards that know what to do and help break it open.””

    The focus also shifts to Arizona’s last series in McKale – something first-year Washington head coach Tia Jackson said in a Tuesday press conference that she was aware about.

    Though the Huskies hold a 1-10 road record, Jackson wants the team focused on the game and to “”not get caught up in all the excitement around that,”” while trying to “”match their intensity on their home floor,”” she said in the press conference.

    Said Dickey of Arizona’s last home series: “”Personally, I think it means a lot to the seniors. I think they’re going to go out there with a lot of pride and show they’ve got something to prove. I think all of us will, because it’s our last two games here.””

    Washington comes off a sweep of the Oregon schools – winning four of its last six games. Team-leaders Kaelan Redmon (12.0 points per game) and Sami Whitcomb (11.1 ppg) will try to overcome the departure of freshman Jess McCormack, a New Zealand native who averaged 7.7 points per game.

    Jackson announced the 6-foot-5 forward McCormack left
    Tuesday after she played 19 games for

    Washington. Injuries and the freshman adjustment, however, returned McCormack back home to train for the upcoming 2008 Olympics.

    “”We are terribly disappointed,”” Jackson said. “”Although (it was a) complete surprise, I do know that adjusting to college life and being so far away from home was a challenge for Jess.””

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