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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sun Devils light up women’s hoops in conference opener

    Arizona guard Joy Hollingsworth looks for an open teammate while being surrounded by a trio of Sun Devils in the Wildcats 89-62 loss to No. 10 ASU Friday in Wells Fargo Arena. Hollingworth tied forward Amina Njonkou for the team lead in points (14) and rebounds (seven).
    Arizona guard Joy Hollingsworth looks for an open teammate while being surrounded by a trio of Sun Devils in the Wildcats’ 89-62 loss to No. 10 ASU Friday in Wells Fargo Arena. Hollingworth tied forward Amina Njonkou for the team lead in points (14) and rebounds (seven).

    TEMPE – Outside Wells Fargo Arena, the weather was grim, a dark blanket over the city, producing a light drizzle.

    Inside, the dark cloud overhead was still present, lingering above the heads of the Arizona women’s basketball team.

    The Wildcats were mauled 89-62 by No. 10 ASU in their Pacific 10 Conference opener Friday night before 3,725.

    “”It’s not the ranking, it’s playing your rivals,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”It’s about playing intelligent basketball and adjusting to how teams play us. They have a good team, and they have a lot of different weapons.””

    With 30 seconds remaining in the game, Arizona guard Ashley Whisonant launched an air ball, symbolizing the team’s play during the first half.

    “”Starting Pac-10 play, I’m disappointed with the loss,”” Bonvicini said. “”But I liked the way we played the second half.””

    After shooting a brutal 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from the field in the first half, its lowest mark in a half this season, Arizona (6-7, 0-1 Pac-10) rallied to shoot 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the field in the second half, its highest mark in a half this season.

    The Wildcats opened the second half hitting seven of their first eight but still trailed 64-37 with 11:31 left in the game. Arizona made 18 of its first 21 shots in the second half, but could never seriously cut into the Sun Devil lead. ASU led by as many as 31 points in the second half while shooting 48.4 percent (15-of-31) from the field.

    The Sun Devils (11-1, 1-0) led at halftime 45-21, the turning point for the Wildcats.

    “”When we went to the locker room at halftime,”” UA forward Amina Njonkou said, “”our coach did a great job telling us what we needed to do.””

    The words from Bonvicini impacted Njonkou the most, who scored all of her 14 points in the latter half to accompany her seven total boards.

    “”Amina did a great job,”” Bonvicini said. “”She played very physical.””

    But is there such a thing as too physical?

    The Wildcats collected 24 fouls, 15 in the first half alone when every Wildcat who played had at least one foul.

    To add insult to injury, Arizona was given two technical fouls for delaying the game.

    “”There were some calls I hadn’t seen in awhile,”” Bonvicini said.

    Early foul trouble forced Bonvicini to go the bench early, playing 10 of her 11 active players in the first half.

    Whisonant only played five minutes of the first half, collecting three early fouls.

    ASU went 21-of-30 (70 percent) from the free throw line.

    Even though she only scored two points in 11 minutes, forward Whitney Fields started her first contest of the season.

    “”I met with every player on Tuesday,”” Bonvicini said. “”I told them coming into Wednesday’s practice that they would have to earn their spot in the lineup, and Whitney earned it.””

    ASU showed its depth as well, giving all 13 of its players ample playing time, no one playing more than 23 minutes.

    “”Down the bench we had awesome enthusiasm and were fully engaged, which is our motto,”” said ASU forward Emily Westerberg, who paced the Sun Devils with 20 points. “”That’s how we were able to keep up our momentum for 40 minutes.””

    The Wildcats finished the game shooting 46.3 percent (25-of-54) from the field, while a 49.3 percent mark (33-of-67) was put up by the Sun Devils. Arizona outrebounded ASU 36-34 but committed a season-high 31 turnovers.

    Individually for Arizona, guard Joy Hollingsworth joined Njonkou with 14 points and seven rebounds.

    Arizona and ASU both got off to slow starts to begin the game, with the teams going scoreless for the first 2:20 until a layup by ASU guard Jill Noe started the scoring. The Sun Devils climbed out to a 14-2 lead over Arizona at the 13:50 mark, as the Wildcats shot 1-of-8 from the field with seven turnovers.

    ASU led 26-6 at the 10:34 mark and went up 34-12 with 5:42 left to play in the first half.

    Arizona will regroup, Bonvicini said, as it travels next to Stanford, Calif., for a Pac-10 matchup with the No. 14 Cardinal (7-3) on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.

    “”We can build off of this game going into Stanford and play even harder,”” Hollingsworth said.

    AND 1

    ASU center Sybil Dosty, the older sister of Arizona volleyball freshman Whitney Dosty, has to wait for her first taste of instate competition on the hardwood since she is ineligible for the 2006-07 season after transferring from Tennessee. …WNBA referee Michael Price was one of the three zebras to officiate this game. …The matchup marked the 71st meeting all-time between the Wildcats and the Sun Devils on the hardwood, with ASU now owning a 41-30 series advantage.

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