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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “W-hoops rejuvenated, ready for home opener”

    UA guard Ashley Whisonant drives down the court in an 84-64 loss to California on Jan. 27 in McKale Center. The senior and the rest of the Wildcats will open their season at home tonight against Portland.
    UA guard Ashley Whisonant drives down the court in an 84-64 loss to California on Jan. 27 in McKale Center. The senior and the rest of the Wildcats will open their season at home tonight against Portland.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team is looking to continue its “”refuse to lose”” campaign tonight at 7 against Portland in McKale Center.

    After dropping its first two games of the season at the WBCA/Basketball Travelers Classic last weekend, the Wildcats became urgent and determined to salvage a win in University Park, Penn.

    By implementing that motto both physically and mentally, Arizona (1-2) defeated Charlotte 86-77 in overtime Sunday – embarking on its “”one-game winning streak,”” as UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

    “”We learned a lot of things from that game, like to never give up,”” said guard Ashley Whisonant, who scored a career-high 26 points in a 87-78 loss to Penn State two days earlier. “”We’re just going to take that hard work and determination and bring that to the whole team.””

    As the tournament progressed, Bonvicini witnessed much smarter game play in terms of less fouling from a newly energized defense. She hopes such play continues throughout the season, notably against a tough Portland team (2-0) coming off wins over Washington State and Idaho.

    Arizona will shuffle the starting forwards by bringing in Rheya Neabors and using Sarah Hays off the bench. After missing 17 contests last season with a foot injury, Neabors has returned firing this year, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last weekend, including career highs of 11 points and nine rebounds against Charlotte.

    Bonvicini hopes the move sparks an explosive beginning, since the Wildcats have been outscored 122-82 in the first half by its three opponents.

    “”We want to protect our court. … (Portland is) a well-balanced team,”” Bonvicini said. “”We just have to start stronger.””

    By failing to seize easy shots and allowing excessive free throws, Arizona can become its worst enemy when out-rebounded and in foul trouble. After three games, Arizona has missed a combined 51 layups, while opponents are winning the battle of the boards, 135-112.

    After missing the tournament last weekend, guard Jessica Arnold remains inactive after suffering a concussion in the Nov. 5 exhibition game against Vanguard.

    “”Jess brings a lot to the game,”” Whisonant said. “”She’s a great shooter and great athlete in general. We missed that the whole tournament.””

    Guard Tasha Dickey has taken the interim starting position and continues to impress Bonvicini by guiding the team throughout the Charlotte victory, as the freshman posted a team-high
    18 points.

    On how the team copes with the absence of a senior leader, Bonvicini said, “”I wouldn’t say there’s been one player replacing her. … I think it’s been more by committee.””

    And 1

    Tonight marks the first meeting in history between these two schools. … Arizona is 13-3 in home openers since 1991. …

    Three athletes signed National Letters-of-Intent to play and study at Arizona in fall of 2008, Bonvicini announced yesterday. The early-signing period class consists of 5-foot-7 point guard Amani Butler, 5-foot-6 point guard Jhakia McDonald and 6-foot-5 power forward Malia Nahinu.

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