Feb 27, 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) After her team's impressive win Thursday night over a night-ranked Stanford team, Arizona Coach Joan Bonvicini was quick to credit her players' work ethic.
"This was a huge game for our team," Bonvicini said of 20th-ranked Arizona's 79-64 win. "I am just proud of our players and how hard they work. We are playing well right now because we are practicing well."
"We wanted the win more than they did tonight and we didn't let down. Our team was upset by the last loss (at Stanford). We had a great week of practice this week, and really got after each other."
Arizona's Dee Dee Wheeler scored 14 of her game-high 26 in the second half, hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc and nailing down 6-of-6 at the free throw stripe, as the Wildcats avenged an 82-74 loss to the Cardinal on Dec. 29.
"We wanted the win more than they did tonight and we didn't let down," said Wheeler. "Our team was upset by the last loss (at Stanford). We had a great week of practice this week, and really got after each other."
Arizona (19-7, 12-5 Pac-10) looked good early against Stanford (22-4, 14-3), as freshman center Shawntinice Polk led them to a 37-24 halftime advantage. Polk was dominant from the outset, scoring 12 of the Wildcats' first 19 points. She also grabbed eight first-half rebounds.
"I took the first loss at Stanford personally," said Polk, who finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. "We pushed to play 40 minutes of basketball tonight. Our team defense really picked it up tonight."
Stanford went cold from outside early on, shooting 11 percent from 3-point range during the opening half.
"Arizona has a great team," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "They played very aggressive and very physical. I hope we play them again next week (in the conference tournament)."
The Cardinal scored the first six points of the second half to slice the advantage to 37-30. But when star forward Nicole Powell exited at the 16:50 mark after tweaking her left ankle, it stopped Stanford's momentum.
Arizona got the lead back into double digits when freshman guard Natalie Jones converted a three-point play to make it 40-30. Stanford was unable to start a run at the lead, as the Wildcats countered every Cardinal basket.
Arizona clinched the victory by hitting knocking down 11 of 12 free throw attempts in the final 1:30.
Polk tied the Arizona single-season rebounding record, as she grabbed her 284th of the year. It was the 12th home win in a row for the Wildcats, and it ends a four-game losing streak against the Cardinal.