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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    OSU shuts down Cats’ late charge

    Three teams showed up Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore. The trouble was, two of them belonged to the Arizona women’s basketball team.

    The Wildcats waited to play their best basketball until after digging themselves a 30-point hole, midway through the second half.

    “”There were some tough calls and some tough no-calls,”” Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “”I think early, we let that bother us.””

    Though Arizona stormed back with 57 points in the game’s final 11 minutes, it wasn’t enough as the Beavers (11-11, 5-9 Pacific 10 Conference) were able to close out the game and the Wildcats (7-18, 3-12), 91-83 at home.

    Despite the 30-point deficit, Arizona and emerging freshman star Kelsey Burns slowly chipped away at the Beavers’ lead, cutting it to 25 points with 7:27 to play.

    The guard, who finished with career highs in points (19), rebounds (nine) and steals (three), led the way over the next five minutes as Arizona began a furious comeback, outscoring the Beavers 27-8 to cut the lead to six, 78-72, with 2:07 to play.

    “”Shots started falling, and … with each shot, our confidence kind of grew and we just kept shooting,”” Burns said. “”It was just like all of a sudden we were just back in it.

    “”Everybody just dug in and played with heart and just said we’re not going to be down by 30.””

    Unfortunately for Arizona, the run ended there, as the Beavers matched the Wildcats more than point-for-point the rest of the way, outscoring Arizona 13-11.

    Though Arizona got strong play once again from the backcourt – junior guard Joy Hollingsworth had a season-high 24 points and 6 rebounds, senior guard Natalie Jones finished with 18 and nine, and sophomore guard Ashley Whisonant added 16 and three – the post players only accounted for a total of three points and two rebounds.

    “”We just need to get some points from our inside game, which the last couple games unfortunately we haven’t been able to do,”” Bonvicini said “”Difference is, (Oregon State’s) taller, a lot of size … that was basically it.””

    That led the 15th-year coach to put a lineup of five guards on the floor and install a press. It worked, guiding the late-game near-comeback that saw her team score 63 second-half points, shattering the previous season high in points in a half, which stood at 51 from the Wildcats’ Jan. 22 win at California.

    Pac-10 basketball standings
    School Pac-10 Overall
    Stanford 12-2 18-5
    Arizona State 11-4 20-5
    UCLA 10-5 15-9
    Washington 9-5 16-7
    USC 9-6 15-9
    California 7-7 15-9
    Oregon 5-9 14-10
    Oregon state 5-9 11-11
    Arizona 3-12 7-18
    Washington State 1-13 7-16

    “”We scored because we got some steals and we got some rebounds, got in transition,”” Bonvicini said of the Wildcat defense that forced 22 turnovers.

    The press was made possible by the return of guards Jessica Arnold, a sophomore, and Malia O’Neal, a freshman, both of whom had been sidelined with concussions.

    Though the two accounted for only three points, it was simply the fact that they were on the court that made a difference for Arizona.

    “”It was good to have Jess Arnold and Malia back in uniform, they played hard,”” Bonvicini said. “”It’s good to have a rotation and be able to press a little bit.””

    Said Burns: “”Just knowing you have two guard subs, it’s kind of a relief … We all definitely got more rest.””

    Arizona opened the game by netting only 20 points in the first 20 minutes, which, suffice it to say, didn’t go a long way in impressing its coach.

    “”I was pretty upset at halftime,”” Bonvicini said. “”I thought we could have played better, and then we challenged them, and they responded.””

    Her fire at the half may have carried onto the court in the final frame, as Bonvicini was assessed a technical foul with just under 15 minutes to play, lighting a spark under her team.

    “”I just felt that there were some things officiatingwise that I questioned,”” she said

    “”They (the coaches) were getting really fired up,”” Burns said. “”I think that helped us get a little pumped.””

    The Wildcats return home this week for a two-game set with the Bay Area schools, facing Cal Thursday night at 7 in McKale Center and Pac-10-leading Stanford Saturday at 2 p.m. for Senior Day, when Jones and her senior teammate Anna Chappell, a forward, will be honored.

    Saturday afternoon’s game will also feature a ceremony to retire the jersey of the late Shawntinice Polk, as this would have been the center’s Senior Day.

    Information taken from a press release on www.OSUBeavers.com.

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