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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “O’Neal’s shot, women’s comeback falls short vs. ASU”

    UA guard Malia ONeal attempts what would have been the game-tying shot over ASUs Reagan Pariseau in Arizonas 59-54 loss to the Sun Devils Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. ONeals shot fell short of the basket, dashing any hopes of a comeback.
    UA guard Malia O’Neal attempts what would have been the game-tying shot over ASU’s Reagan Pariseau in Arizona’s 59-54 loss to the Sun Devils Saturday afternoon in McKale Center. O’Neal’s shot fell short of the basket, dashing any hopes of a comeback.

    The ball sailed out of Malia O’Neal’s hands with seven seconds to go. The aim was perfect. The distance was not.

    The 3-pointer would have tied the score at 57, but instead, the guard’s airball meant the Arizona women’s basketball team ended its regular season Saturday in a 59-54 loss to No. 10 ASU in McKale Center.

    “”(Guard) Joy (Hollingsworth) was supposed to be the shooter there,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”(Malia) had the ball, but she wasn’t necessarily the person to shoot it there.””

    Had Hollingsworth been open and made the shot, the game could have gone into overtime, and the Wildcats (10-20, 4-14 Pacific 10 Conference) would have had a chance to upset the Sun Devils (26-3, 16-2), who had won the last three matchups by an average of 29 points.

    Instead, the Sun Devils got their school-record 26th win of the season.

    “”Malia took a great shot,”” Hollingsworth said. “”We don’t care (who shoots) … whoever was wide open.

    “”We don’t want Malia to get down on herself for missing a shot like that,”” she added. “”She’s going to make those in the Pac-10 Tournament. I had all the confidence in her. It was on target, just a little short.””

    Much of the game’s excitement came in the final five minutes. With 4:50 to play, ASU had a 10-point lead that dwindled to a single point when guard Ashley Whisonant made a layup with 1:04 to play.

    Reagan Pariseau hit a 3-pointer with 0:29 left to give the Sun Devils a 55-52 lead. O’Neal then countered with a layup with 15 seconds left, and Hollingsworth quickly fouled to send the Sun Devils to the free-throw line.

    Forward Emily Westerberg made both attempts to put ASU up 57-54.

    The missed 3-point attempt was one of many mistakes Arizona made down the stretch that prevented them from pulling a major upset.

    “”Just a missed layup here, a free throw there,”” Bonvicini said. “”That’s where I really think we needed to do a better job, was making our free throws.””

    The Wildcats had a low-scoring but strong first half. They trailed 23-22at the break, but ASU scored the first four points of the second half.

    That lead evaporated as Arizona went ahead 28-27 over the last 1:38. It was the Wildcats’ last lead of the day.

    “”I thought it was a great game, a well-played game for both teams,”” Bonvicini said. “”We were well-prepared going in, and I thought we played very hard and very smart.””

    Arizona finished 9-of-17 at the charity stripe, including 2-of-7 in the first half. ASUwent 15-of-20 from the line.

    “”Had we made all our free throws, or at least 90 percent, we definitely would have won the game,”” Hollingsworth said.

    Whisonant said she didn’t want to pinpoint any specific aspect of the loss.

    “”You can always say, ‘If we didn’t turn the ball over that time or if we didn’t miss that layup, or if we didn’t do this or if we would have stopped this person,’ we would have won,”” she said. “”In my mind, this loss also comes out as a win because we got to compete with the No. (10) team in the country.””

    On Senior Day, the senior Hollingsworth had a game-high 24 points, as she shot 9-of-16 in 36 minutes. She also had the team’s lone 3-pointer.

    “”It would have been nice to get a win,”” Hollingsworth said. “”For us to withstand a team who is second in the Pac-10 – a powerhouse – is great. I think this was our best game of the year, and we definitely put two halves together.

    “”When we play hard, we can play with any team in the country.””

    The Wildcats will open the Pac-10 Tournament Friday in San Jose, Calif., against Oregon State. In their two meetings this year, the teams split.

    And 1

    The home crowd of 2,972 was the largest of the year for Arizona. Made up largely of ASU fans, the “”home-court advantage”” went both ways … Three seniors were honored: Hollingsworth, and guards Linda Pace and Rachel Schein. Schein has sat out the last two years due to injuries.

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