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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “After early win, Cats end season in San Jose”

    Women’s Pac-10 Tournament

    No one expected anything of them, so when the No. 9-seeded Arizona women’s basketball team knocked off No. 8-seeded Oregon on the opening night of the women’s Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, it surprised everyone but the Wildcats themselves.

    Though Arizona went on to lose 77-50 to No. 1-seeded Stanford on Saturday in the tournament’s second round at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., the weekend did not end without a sense of accomplishment.

    “”This has been, obviously, a challenging season in so many ways, but it also means these kids have never stopped playing, and I’m really proud of them,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”These kids have battled, and they’ve never made an excuse, never given up.

    “”Yesterday, it was disappointing, but it was sort of what our season’s been like: We’ve been banged up, but we’ve never stopped playing.””

    Winning the Friday night game, a 64-57 decision between the Ducks (14-15) and Wildcats – two schools who split in the regular season – was exactly what Arizona (8-22) set out to do.

    “”We didn’t want to go home,”” sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant said. “”We wanted to stay another day.””

    Go home they didn’t – at least not for another day – as the Wildcats were led by Whisonant, who finished with 17 points, and a sharp-shooting guard in junior Joy Hollingsworth, who netted 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 from behind the arc, breaking a nine-game losing streak in the process.

    Whisonant’s 17 points marked her highest output since a 19-point outburst Feb. 2 in a loss to Southern California.

    “”Everybody played good, it was just a lot of fun,”” Whisonant said. “”I haven’t had that much fun in a while.””

    Though she would match that 17-point total in Saturday’s game, the Cardinal (22-6) were just too much to overcome. Three players – including sophomore guard Candice Wiggins, who was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Year earlier last week – were in double figures for Stanford. The Cardinal also dominated the boards, 48-35.

    Combined with the fatigue factor of playing two games in less than 24 hours, the Wildcats simply could not keep pace.

    “”They were fresh, we weren’t,”” Bonvicini said, adding that her players “”were just worn out.

    “”We spent a lot of energy the night (before),”” she continued. “”We pressed honestly the entire game on Friday from start to finish.””

    Hollingsworth’s hot shooting from the night before couldn’t charm a victory for the Wildcats over the Cardinal.

    “”We just ran out of gas,”” she said.

    A day after being held to two points, freshman forward Amina Njonkou responded with a career-best eight points in 23 minutes of action, another career high, but outside of Whisonant’s 17, no other Wildcat broke double figures in the loss to Stanford.

    A major contributing factor was the loss of sophomore guard Jessica Arnold, who left late in the first half against the Cardinal with what was suspected to be a concussion, which would be her second of the season. The Tucson native was having quite a game up to that point, with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range in 15 minutes of work.

    Hollingsworth added eight points in the contest but had to switch from her usual jersey No. 45 to an unfamiliar No. 31 after cutting her chin open and bleeding while trying to set a screen. The gash required three stitches.

    “”We gave everything we had,”” Bonvicini said. “”I thought we represented ourselves well.””

    Despite the struggles faced by the Wildcats this season, it wasn’t a wasted season in Bonvicini’s opinion.

    “”I’m proud of these kids,”” she said. “”I think we’ve all learned a lot, grown a lot, and … this season is something that we’ll never forget.””

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