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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcat women collapse in second half

    Arizonas Amina Njonkou fights off Allison Jaskowiak, left, and Eshaya Murphy during the Wildcats 77-68 loss to USC at McKale Center last night. Arizona blew an 11-point second half lead.
    Arizona’s Amina Njonkou fights off Allison Jaskowiak, left, and Eshaya Murphy during the Wildcats’ 77-68 loss to USC at McKale Center last night. Arizona blew an 11-point second half lead.

    The Arizona women’s basketball team had their usual sizzling hot start to open last night’s game against USC, but in the end, it was all for naught.

    The Wildcats (7-13, 1-7, Pacific 10 Conference) took an eight-point lead into halftime, but once again the team could not keep up the frenetic play for 40 minutes, as they fell 77-68 to the Women of Troy (11-7, 5-3).

    “”This was a game that we really could have, and should have won,”” said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. “”I thought we played a very good first half – smart, good defense, rebounded well and got to the free throw line.””

    Bonvicini remains at 598 wins. She has been stuck on that number since her team beat Washington State Jan. 6. Her squad has now lost three in a row and 10 of their last 12.

    The entire game proved to be very streaky for both teams, as the game featured 10 lead changes and 10 ties.

    “”I thought it was a good game,”” said USC head coach Mark Trakh. “”Either team could have won down the stretch. It was a situation where some of our shots fell at the end.

    “”We were fortunate because this is not an easy place to win.””

    Arizona led by as many as 11 points in the early minutes of the second half until the team went through their sudden characteristic second half collapse.

    USC guard Shay Murphy was in control in the second half, scoring 25 of her 30 points in the latter period, including 13 of her team’s final 15 points.

    “”I tried to attack and I got to the free throw line,”” Murphy said. “”After that, shots started falling.””

    After the Wildcats had their 11-point lead at 44-33, USC went on a 14-3 run, tying the score at 47. The Women of Troy continued the onslaught after four Arizona points, but countered again with 10 quick points, making the score 57-51 USC.

    The Wildcats fought back yet again, countering with a 7-0 run over the next 90 seconds, leading 58-57.

    The Wildcats point total reached 64 with 4:53 to play, but went on a long scoring drought, going exactly four minutes before their next field goal.

    “”We’re right on the verge and we know that,”” Bonvicini said. “”But we have to put it all together for 40 minutes. We’re right there.””

    With Arizona leading 15-7 in the first half, the Women of Troy quickly bounced back and went on a 14-2 run for the next four minutes.

    Arizona then retaliated with a 17-7 run to end the half. UA forward Amina Njonkou made a jumper with two USC guards in her face as time expired in the first half, as the Wildcats took a 34-26 lead into halftime.

    Arizona finished the half with a 39 field goal percentage on 12-for-31 shooting. The team also had 16 points off turnovers.

    “”In the first half we had a ton of energy,”” senior guard Joy Hollingsworth said. “”We were going to the line, moving the ball. They didn’t capitalize on the turnovers.””

    Both Hollingsworth and Bonvicini attributed the late collapse to the team’s lack of mental toughness.

    “”A lot of times we do let down when teams make a run,”” Hollingsworth said. “”If we can sustain our sense of urgency, even if we’re up by 11 points … we will be fine.””

    Hollingsworth led the team with 20 points, and was 4-for-9 from beyond the arc. Forward Amina Njonkou had the team’s lone double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

    Arizona as a whole shot 24-for-59 (40.6 percent) and had 37 rebounds.

    “”Not to take anything from ‘SC, but we should have won,”” Bonvicini said. “”And you need to be pissed off. You need to take it personal.””

    UCLA up next

    Arizona will continue conference play tomorrow afternoon when they will host UCLA (9-11, 3-5) on Saturday.

    The Bruins will look to bounce back after a miserable showing yesterday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, where they lost to No. 10 ASU 92-52.

    It was UCLA’s worst loss of the season, and at one point in the game trailed the Sun Devils by 44 points.

    Arizona can expect a much better showing from UCLA, who shot only 33 percent and committed 25 turnovers in their fourth loss in their last five games.

    Senior guard Noelle Quinn is widely regarded as one of the best players in the country, averaging 16.5 points per game and 6.2 assists per game, good for fifth and second in the Pac-10, respectively. Quinn’s assists total currently is ninth in the nation.

    She became one of five players in Bruins women’s hoops history to score 1,600 points and have 700 rebounds in her career.

    “”My thing is really to focus on fundamentals,”” Bonvicini said. “”We’ve had some tough times and it’s not what happens, it’s how you handle it.

    “”We’re going to come out tomorrow and have a good practice and Saturday we’re going to win.””

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