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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cats’ bench deepens

    Scoot over, girls, and make some room on the bench.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team’s bench deepens just in time to take on Oregon State tonight at 7 in McKale Center.

    Forward Rheya Neabors and guard Marie McGee have been cleared to play again.

    Neabors returns from a stress fracture in her foot suffered in the Dec. 3 win over Louisiana Tech and McGee returns from a foot injury.

    “”They haven’t played in a while but it gives us quality personnel,”” UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said.

    Neabors and McGee rejoin Arizona as it begins to utilize its roster more of late.

    Senior guard Linda Pace started for the first time this season last week in a win over Washington State. She did not score, but grabbed four boards, dished out two assists and had four steals.

    On the road to 600?
    A win against the Beavers would make Bonvicini the 18th coach in NCAA history to win 600 games. Her 500th win came against the Beavers on Feb. 3, 2001 – an 83-73 victory.
    If her 600th win came against the same team, it would be a “”mere coincidence,”” Bonvicini said.
    “”I’m just excited for the players,”” she said. “”I’ve coached a long time and have been fortunate enough to have some great players who have made an impact on my life. If we get 600, then we go right on and get 601.””

    Guards Malia O’Neal and Kelsey Burns have also proved to be crucial to Arizona’s large rotation.

    “”Malia is taking a great role in starting point guard,”” said guard Ashley Whisonant, who has been trading off time with O’Neal lately. She is “”controlling the team and making good decisions.””

    Meanwhile, the Beavers (8-13, 3-9 Pacific 10 Conference) rely on a smaller rotation, giving starters more playing time. A lot more.

    The last time the two teams met – a 69-62 loss for Arizona (8-17, 2-11) on Jan. 13 – four Beavers played all 40 minutes.

    In fact, OSU guards Cedes Fox-Griffin (37.89) and Casey Nash (37.29) are No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the conference for minutes played. Forward Judie Lomax (36.38) is fifth.

    “”They don’t have a lot of personnel, but the personnel they have do a nice job,”” Bonvicini said.

    But Arizona has the advantage having a larger rotation and spreading out the playing time, Burns said.

    “”Playing 40 minutes is rough on the body,”” she said. “”It’s an advantage for us. We can get (guard) Joy (Hollingsworth) and some others some rest.””

    Burns has collected 47 minutes of playing time in the last four games, scoring 13 points in that span, including 10 points in 20 minutes against Stanford on Jan. 25.

    “”Kelsey just needs to shoot the ball,”” Whisonant said with a laugh. “”That’s what she’s good at.””

    Burns said she’s just doing what she always does and is always ready to enter the game.

    “”You never know if you’re going to get 20 minutes or if you’re going to get five,”” she said. “”I’m just always ready.””

    Having more Wildcats to contribute should prove to be helpful in stopping OSU’s key players.

    Nash, who scored a game-high 27 points in the last contest with Arizona, leads the Pac-10 in scoring with 20.6 points per game.

    “”Nash is a lefty so we just have to keep her from going left,”” Whisonant said. “”She comes off a lot of screens. We just have to stay in her face.””

    And 1

    Center Suzy Bofia has been playing all season with a torn ACL suffered in July, Bonvicini revealed in a teleconference Tuesday.

    She plans to undergo surgery after the season and return in time for next season, Bonvicini said.

    Before Tuesday, when the news of Suzy’s injury was first announced, the leg brace that she wears was never really broached.

    “”We didn’t want other people to know,”” Bonvicini said. “”We didn’t want to talk about it.””

    Her twin sister, Beatrice, is sitting this season out after tearing her ACL during warmups of the Red & Blue game Nov. 1.

    “”She’s a real tough kid,”” said Bonvicini of Suzy. “”I don’t think it’s painful.””

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