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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women lose by slimmest of margins

    Freshman forward Whitney Fields shoots over USC freshman center Nadia Parker in McKale Center last night. USC edged out the Wildcats in the last minute of play with a final score of 72-73.
    Freshman forward Whitney Fields shoots over USC freshman center Nadia Parker in McKale Center last night. USC edged out the Wildcats in the last minute of play with a final score of 72-73.

    Their coach may have put it best: Moral victories don’t count in the standings.

    For the Arizona women’s basketball team, 73-72 losers to the visiting Southern California Trojans in McKale Center last night, fighting back from behind just took too much out of them with only three players available off the injury-depleted bench.

    “”We played our hearts out tonight,”” said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”I’m disappointed with the loss, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys.””

    Twice in the second half, the Wildcats (7-15, 3-9 Pacific 10 Conference) came storming back from double-digit leads held by the Women of Troy (14-7, 8-4), despite playing without injured forwards ChǸ Oh, a sophomore, and Amina Njonkou, a freshman.

    Sophomore guard Jessica Arnold also didn’t play in the game because of a concussion sustained Wednesday in practice.

    “”I don’t know how we pulled the game out,”” said USC head coach Mark Trakh. “”Arizona kept coming back.

    “”I’ll be honest, if they have everyone healthy, they are in the top of the league, no question.””

    The injuries opened the door for freshman forward Kelsey Burns, who had a career-high 11 points in 25 minutes, also a career high.

    “”I didn’t know what playing so much felt like,”” she said. “”I was just playing and trying to help the team in any way I could.””

    Down by 68-67 with 2:46 to play, Arizona’s defensive pressure forced the Trojans to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the story wasn’t much different, as freshman forward Whitney Fields forced a turnover, the ball eventually finding its way to the Wildcats’ Ashley Whisonant.

    Whisonant, who finished with 19 points, raced down the court, took the ball strong to the basket and was fouled on the way, giving the Wildcats only their third lead of the game at 69-68.

    After the teams exchanged free throws, senior guard Natalie Jones was sent to the line, where, after some chirping from Trojan junior guard Shay Murphy, who had 14 points in the game, missed both shots, and left the Wildcats leading at 72-71.

    “”We were playing hard, we never gave up,”” said Jones, who led the Wildcats with 22 points and 12 rebounds. “”That’s something we’ve been doing, even though we’ve been losing these couple of games.

    “”No matter what, we never gave up.””

    On the ensuing possession, Fields was called for a blocking foul, and the Trojan’s junior center Chloe Kerr, who led the Trojans with 17 points, hit both free throws to give USC the lead again at 73-72.

    Arizona had one last shot to win the game after the Trojan’s junior guard Jamie Hagiya missed the front end of a one-and-one.

    Jones came down with the rebound and pushed the ball up the court to Whisonant, who missed the ensuing shot just short with six seconds to play. Trojan guard Allison Jaskowiak, a junior, came down with the rebound but no foul was called, though she was assaulted by all five Wildcat players before time expired.

    With the Wildcats storming back from an 11-point deficit midway through the second half, USC’s senior guard Meghan Gnekow stole the momentum from the injury-depleted Wildcats, who only used seven players in the game, with her a 3-point shot with 12:29 to play.

    After going scoreless in the first half, junior guard Joy Hollingsworth responded with 13 second-half points in the losing effort.

    In the first half, the Wildcats used a 15-0 run to open up an 18-4 lead, but the Women of Troy battled back with a 27-4 run of their own to take a 33-27 lead into the break.

    “”We lost our lead when USC went to zone,”” Bonvicini said. “”We had a hard time adjusting to that.””

    Now the team turns its focus to UCLA, who beat the Wildcats 84-77 in Los Angeles in January.

    After the game, Bonvicini said that Arnold and Oh won’t be available for Saturday’s 4 p.m. tipoff in McKale, but she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Njonkou returning to the lineup.

    “”It will be a tough game, because they’re very different from (USC),”” she said. “”We’ll take what we learned from this game. … It just comes down to playing our own game.””

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