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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Confidence key to women’s hoops finale

    Arizona womens basketball guard Tasha Dickey swarms Arizona State guard Alexa Price during the Wildcats 67-54 loss to Washington State in McKale Center on Feb. 23. Arizona will face USC tonight in Los Angeles.
    Arizona women’s basketball guard Tasha Dickey swarms Arizona State guard Alexa Price during the Wildcats’ 67-54 loss to Washington State in McKale Center on Feb. 23. Arizona will face USC tonight in Los Angeles.

    Arizona at USC

    The word “”confidence”” might not be spelled with the letters “”L-A,”” but the Arizona women’s basketball team hopes to change that tonight. The Wildcats travel to Los Angeles for their final weekend series against USC (17-10, 10-6 Pac-10) tonight at 7, and UCLA (14-13, 9-7) on Saturday at 11 a.m.

    Dormant in terms of standings, Arizona (9-18, 3-13) is unable to drastically advance or fall in the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament seedings as the ninth-place team.

    Despite sitting just one game behind eighth-place Oregon State and one game ahead of last-place Washington State, each scenario puts Arizona in the March 7 preliminary round – the 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9 seed games – in San Jose, Calif.

    Though some could consider the weekend trip irrelevant, Arizona will play with different intentions.

    “”Our team needs a lot of confidence,”” said guard Tasha Dickey. “”Even if we don’t win, go out hard and play … this will be great for us to go out and give us confidence.””

    The Wildcats carry a five-game losing streak into the weekend, dropping its 13 of the last 16 games.

    Over past four games, the Wildcats have lost by an average of over 18 points through 13-, 18-, 21- and 23-point defeats to the Bay Area and Washington schools, respectively. Arizona shot particularly poor against California in a 66-45 loss that set a new school-record low field goal percentage (24.1 percent on 13-for-54 shooting) in Pac-10 play.

    Said guard Ashley Whisonant of the team’s status: “”We’re just working on our confidence level, going into the Pac-10 tournament as a confident team to get some wins.””

    Although the diagnosis for their struggles can easily be attributed to the immense amount of injuries, the Wildcats look beyond excuses for poor recent results, rather, focusing on coming together as a team.

    “”We need to get together as a team and focus on us more so than focus on them,”” Whisonant said. “”We have a lot of things we need to work on as a team, like getting our unity back together. Once we have that, we’re a very good team.””

    Specifically, Whisonant said the team must refocus on communication through team meetings and “”getting to know each other, so we can end the season good, not on a bad note.””

    USC, winners of the last six meetings against Arizona, touts talented perimeter shooting from guards Camille LeNoir (10.4 ppg), Heather Oliver (8.4 ppg) and Brynn Cameron (5.7 ppg).

    The Women of Troy lead the conference with 154 3-pointers – a lethal mismatch for Arizona’s lackluster perimeter defense which allowed 10-of-17 3s against Washington State in the first half.

    “”You gotta come out with great intensity, take pride in your defense and close out shooters,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

    Arizona plans to better execute on offense with an inside-outside approach, Bonvicini said.

    With a healthier roster – Whisonant, Dickey and Rheya Neabors are expected to play regular minutes – Bonvicini believes the “”very important”” weekend can serve as a great stride towards momentum for the tournament.

    Aside from momentum and confidence, Bonvicini said the “”homecoming”” trip to Los Angeles will give players the opportunity to visit home while attracting many recruits from the area.

    Sabreena Berger (San Diego), Shannon Hobson (Perris, Calif.), Ify Ibekwe (Carson, Calif.) and Rhaya and Rheya Neabors (Pomona, Calif.) all have ties to Southern California.

    “”Obviously, this is a very important weekend,”” Bonvicini said. “”We did not play the past week at home the way we wanted to. We need to regroup.””

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