By Curtis Acosta
Arizona Daily Wildcat
After a difficult road trip to the LA schools Ä which saw Arizona split a pair of games with Southern Cal and UCLA Ä the women's basketball team returns to McKale Center tonight to take on the 24th-ranked Oregon Ducks.
Arizona's homecoming is not going to be a pleasant one. The Ducks are coming to Tucson fresh off two wins against Washington State and nationally-ranked Washington. Oregon is 11-3 and 4-1 in the Pacific 10 Conference, including an impressive road record of 3-1. Coach Joan Bonvicini expects the Ducks to be ready to play and knows the opposition is looking for a big win on the road. Bonvicini believes that stopping them defensively and controlling the boards are essential to a Wildcat victory.
Oregon is led by Pac-10 player of the week Renae Fegent. The junior center had 41 points and 12 rebounds against the Washington schools. Bonvicini thinks that Fegent is an important player to stop, and feels that sophomore guard Arianne Boyer will pose some problems as well.
"It's not just her (Fegent) size, she is very mobile," Bonvicini said. "She is scoring a lot on misses and when someone else penetrates and gives it up to her. I am really impressed with Boyer, (she) is a very, very good player."
The Wildcats know that winning at home is crucial to their Pac-10 chances. In addition to No. 5 Stanford, the rest of the Pac-10 is very tight, and losing at home could be disastrous.
"This is a critical weekend because after this weekend we go on the road for two consecutive weekends," Bonvicini said. "I think it's important we hold our home- court advantage."
JiJi Sweet and Adia Barnes led the Wildcats in their recent road trip. Barnes has scored in double figures in her last six games, and Sweet scored 34 points last weekend. Despite these statistics, Arizona will need other players to step up in order to remain successful in conference play.
Junior Guard Brenda Pantoja is another key for the Wildcats. Pantoja had a rough shooting spell on the recent road trip, but Bonvicini expects her to play better within the friendly confines of McKale.
"I think that she was forcing the action a little bit," Bonvicini said. "She just needs to let the game come to her."
Another player that has been contributing lately has been freshman guard DeAngela Minter. Minter, the hero of the Wildcats' squeaker over UCLA, has been hobbled by a sore ankle.
Oregon will be an important test for the Wildcats. The Ducks have beaten some of the top teams in the conference, and have had success on the road. Holding serve tonight by beating Oregon would be an important step if Arizona is to gain respect in the Pac-10.
"I think our bench has to do a better job with production," Bonvicini said. "Whether it's points or rebounds, defensively we need to do a better job."
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