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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Cats beat UTEP, NC State over weekend”

    The phrase too close for comfort comes to mind.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team let a 20-point lead fade away late in the game, but stayed strong to defeat Texas-El Paso on the road yesterday.

    Arizona (4-2) led 67-47 with 3:47 in the game, but UTEP (4-1) went on a 21-5 run down the stretch.

    UTEP shot 7-of-9 from the field, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc in this time.

    “”We played the best we’ve played all season for the first 34 minutes of this game,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”In the last six minutes we lost our intensity.””

    Three Wildcats ran their scoring total to double digits.

    Senior guard Joy Hollingsworth led the team with a season-high 22 points and nine boards. Sophomore forward Amina Njonkou scored 14 points to go with five rebounds, and junior center Suzy Bofia added 10 points and five rebounds.

    Before the game, Bonvicini said she told Hollingsworth that she wanted her “”to hit four 3s.””

    She did just that in nine attempts.

    “”(Joy) has been a terrific leader and great captain,”” Bonvicini said. “”She has an outstanding game.””

    Whisonant leads way in victory over Wolfpack

    They left a good impression.

    Playing against each other for the first time ever, the Arizona women’s basketball team edged North Carolina State 68-66 in overtime Friday night in McKale Center.

    “”Overtime is our time,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini,

    alluding to a 59-56 overtime win against Texas Christian on Nov. 19. “”I’d like to win it in regulation, though.””

    After being up by as much as 13 with 18:05 to go in the second half, the Wildcats were down 60-58 when freshman forward Rheya Neabors drove to the basket and hit a game-tying layup with six seconds left in regulation.

    “”I was looking to pass, but the opportunity just presented itself,”” said Neabors, who had only six points in 34 minutes of play.

    Leading 67-66 with 11.4 seconds left in overtime, junior guard Ashley Whisonant made one of her two free throws, putting the Wildcats ahead by their final victory margin of two.

    Playing against a high-pressure defensive team, Whisonant hit 9 of her 13 foul shots.

    “”It’s amazing how she gets to the free-throw line and to the hole so much, yet she’s unselfish,”” Bonvicini said.

    The Wolfpack (4-2), meanwhile, only shot eight free throws as a team.

    The team is a reflection of Whisonant’s play, Bonvicini said of her guard, who scored 19 points in 37 minutes and shot 46 percent from the field (5-of-11).

    Also in double figures were senior guard Joy Hollingsworth and sophomore forward Amina Njonkou, with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

    But the 5-foot-8 Whisonant was lethal on both ends of the hardwood.

    “”Oh, and she’s an excellent defensive player too,”” Bonvicini added of Whisonant, the ’05-’06 defensive MVP for the Wildcats.

    With 21 seconds to go in regular play, she swiped the ball from the Wolfpack senior forward Keisha Brown, dishing it to Neabors to tie the game at 60 and send it into overtime.

    “”I led by example,”” said Whisonant, who had a game-high four steals. “”We didn’t want to lose that game. I got beat a couple of times and Joy and Rheya got some steals (3 and 2, respectively). We all pitched in.””

    Although it was Arizona and NC State’s first contest against one another, being that NC State is a perennial NCAA Tournament team, Bonvicini said she knew they would be athletic, quick and a strong rebounding squad.

    Still, Arizona managed to outplay its opponent to the end.

    “”There are still some things we’re looking to work on,”” Bonvicini said, “”but I like the way we finished this game.””

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