Arizona facing critical stretch without Sweet

By Patrick Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona women's basketball team heads into its game tonight against No. 21 Oregon State needing perfection.

With five games remaining, the Wildcats (10-15, 5-8) must go undefeated in order to salvage a .500 season. Arizona needs to win at least four of those games to surpass last season's total of eight conference victories, best in school history.

The Wildcats probably will go into the game tonight in Corvallis without the services of senior guard JiJi Sweet, who sprained her left knee on Feb. 15 and did not play last week against Southern Cal and UCLA.

The loss of Sweet, second on the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game, forces Arizona to find someone to pick up her scoring and leadership.

"It's tough when you have someone like JiJi go down with a knee injury, someone who is such a leader on this team," said UA head coach Joan Bonvicini. "But that just means that everybody needs to step up and play hard for her. We need a solid, 40-minute team effort out there.

"We need to head down this critical stretch with the attitude that we are going to win these games."

Bonvicini is no stranger to her senior stars falling to late-season knee injuries. Last year, it was Shawn Coder who went down.

Stepping into Sweet's spot since the injury is freshman DeAngela Minter. She will be joined in the starting lineup by fellow freshman Adia Barnes, junior Atina Harris, freshman Mikko Giordano and junior Brenda Pantoja.

After earning a split at home against the Oregon schools including being on the short end of a 79-64 score against OSU Bonvicini knows that getting a victory in Corvallis, let alone sweeping the series, will be a formidable task.

"It's always tough to play these schools on their courts," she said. "It will be a challenging series. Both teams have a full range of weapons that they can employ."

Read Next Article