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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bittersweet home ending for women’s basketball

    Junior forward Amina Njonkou fights for a loose ball in Arizonas 67-54 loss to Washington State Saturday in McKale Center. The game marked the Wildcats last home contest of the season.
    Junior forward Amina Njonkou fights for a loose ball in Arizona’s 67-54 loss to Washington State Saturday in McKale Center. The game marked the Wildcats’ last home contest of the season.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team concluded its home schedule in McKale Center with the same faults that haunted the team all season: a compilation of near misses through a thin bench.

    Senior Day proved to be no different, but a crushing 67-54 loss to Washington State couldn’t damper an emotional post-game ceremony that honored four Wildcats for their season-long dedication.

    The team wished to enhance the ceremony with a win, but Arizona could not overcome a staggering 20 missed lay-ups and injury-ridden starters.

    “”Obviously this was not the ending for a home game for a senior year we wanted,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini.

    Arizona (9-18, 3-13 Pacific 10 Conference) dropped its fifth straight game to the conference’s worst team, WSU (5-22, 2-14 Pac-10) through poor first half perimeter defense. The Cougars caught fire off 10-17 3s to open the game – an opponent season high – that put Arizona in 43-24 halftime deficit too large to overcome.

    WSU guard Alexa Price scored 14 points in the first half alone, off 4-5 3s and 5-7 from the field.

    Although the Cougars hit 3-of-12 second half three pointers after Arizona made the defensive adjustment at halftime, a 20-point cushion gave WSU enough leeway to end its 10-year drought in Tucson – as Arizona last lost to the Cougars at home on Jan. 8, 1998.

    “”You gotta take it personal,”” said Bonvicini. “”These kids were on fire and you can’t allow that. We put ourselves in a hole and had to play catch-up.””

    Guard Ashley Whisonant left the game for three minutes, forcing Bonvicini to play forward Rheya Neabors as a point guard in the first half.

    But after being taken to the hospital following Thursday’s loss to Washington, Neabors played 16 minutes before returning from halftime without her jersey because she didn’t feel well, Bonvicini said.

    Arizona’s injury woes continued down the starting lineup as guard Tasha Dickey played 23 minutes on the ankle injury that still affects her game, Bonvicini said.

    “”It’s very unfortunate that a lot of those kids had the injures that they had, especially this year, and weren’t able to compete the way I know they wanted to,”” said WSU head coach June Daugherty, who’s team won its first conference road game since Dec. 12, 2006. “”It’s always tough to go through any injuries and see your kids go down like that.””

    Arizona went a dismal 0-for-11 on 3’s until walk-on guard Ashley Gilpin made the team’s lone 3-pointer with 0:58 remaining in the game. Combined with 20 missed layups, the Wildcats only shot 32.8 percent from the floor.

    Whisonant used great vision to dish out a game-high eight assists – often through backdoor and no-look passes – but finished shooting 4-for-15 from the field in 37 minutes.

    “”There’s a lot of things we could’ve done better, so it just hurts to go out like that,”” Whisonant said. “”It’s hard to go out like that against a team that you know you can beat.””

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