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Arizona Women Look to Bounce Back at USC on Sunday
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/14/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 14, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The 24th-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (18-6, 10-3 Pac-10) will be looking to recover from Thursday's devastating loss at UCLA when the Cats face USC on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 12 p.m. PST. The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats lost their second straight road game on Thursday when they were handed a 87-68 defeat at UCLA, dropping their records to 18-6 overall and 10-3 in Pac-10 play. The loss dropped Arizona into a tie with Stanford for first place in the Pac-10 standings, each with a 10-3 conference mark. USC is a very close third at 10-4, followed by Arizona State at 9-4 and UCLA at 8-6.

Arizona is ranked No. 24 in this week's Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time since November that the Cats have been ranked in that poll. The Wildcats aren't even close to being ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, although their vote total did increase to 30 this week from last week's season-low of 17.

The Wildcats have won 25 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and tied for the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 32 games before a Feb. 25 meeting with Baylor. Utah and Louisiana Tech are both tied with the Cats for second place, each with 25 straight home victories. Western Illinois is close behind with a 24-game streak.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.9 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.8 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 15.9 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.8 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.6 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.5 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 4.6 per game.

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 25: With their win over California on Feb. 7, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 25 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000. The Wildcats haven't lost a home game since suffering a close 78-71 overtime defeat by LSU on Nov. 22, 2002. Arizona has also won 17 straight Pac-10 games at home, with their last home conference loss coming to USC (71-64) on Feb. 16, 2002.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 34 of their last 41 home games and are 110-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 141-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 207-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 12, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.457), is second in scoring (72.8 ppg), second in scoring margin (+7.9 ppg), second in rebounding defense (33.6 rpg), second in blocked shots (3.92 bpg), third in rebounding margin (+4.5 rpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.46 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.54 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.8 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.564) and fourth in scoring (15.9 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.9 ppg), third in steals (2.58 spg), fourth in assists (4.75 apg), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28), seventh in field goal percentage (.479) and 10th in free throw percentage (.740).

Natalie Jones is second in free throw percentage (.814), while Aimee Grzyb is fifth in three-pointers made per game (1.67 pg) and 16th in scoring (10.6 ppg).

SCOUTING USC: The Women of Troy are 13-9 overall and 10-4 in Pac-10 action following a solid 65-50 win over Arizona State at home on Thursday night. USC has won six of its last eight games overall and seven of its last eight home games.

Averaging 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, senior forward Ebony Hoffman leads USC in both categories. Fellow senior Rometra Craig follows with a scoring average of 11.2 ppg, while sophomore guard Meghan Gnekow is the squad's second-leading rebounder, at 5.6 per contest.

In her seventh season at the helm of her alma mater's program, USC head coach Chris Gobrecht (USC, 1977) has a 91-104 mark with the Women of Troy. She is 423-307 in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. USC: The Women of Troy also have a 36-15 lead in the series with Arizona, but the Wildcats have taken five of the last six meetings with USC and the last three straight. Arizona registered a 75-64 win over the Women of Troy in Tucson earlier this season on Jan. 15.

The Cats have a 6-19 all-time record when playing at USC, including a 78-64 win there on Feb. 16 last year.

LAST MEETING WITH USC: In a game that saw a combined total of 66 turnovers, the Wildcats survived a physical battle with USC and came out on top, 75-64, at home on Jan. 15.

Through the first seven minutes of the game, there were three ties and six lead changes before the Cats finally gained control of the contest with a 7-0 spurt that gave them a nine-point (24-15) edge at 9:57. Five minutes later, USC's own 13-6 run cut the Cats' lead to just two points (30-28) with 4:16 to go in the half. Arizona then scored 14 unanswered points to end the period and took a solid 44-28 lead into the break.

The Wildcats stretched their advantage to 19 points (49-30), their largest lead of the game, early in the second half, but the Trojans went on a 10-2 run that brought them back to within 11 (51-40) at 14:42. Arizona kept at least a double-digit lead through the next nine minutes, going ahead by as many as 16 during the stretch.

The Cats had a 14-point (69-55) lead with 5:05 to play, then committed nine turnovers as USC capitalized on the miscues and scored nine unanswered points to chop the lead to just five (69-64) with 1:12 to play. Arizona made two free throws and a pair of lay-ups down the stretch to preserve the victory, its 22nd in a row on its home court.

Dee-Dee Wheeler posted a game-high 20 points, with 17 coming in the first half, and snagged a team-best five steals. Shawntinice Polk shot 7-for-9 from the floor for the game, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Aimee Grzyb and Natalie Jones each added 11 points, with Jones tying her career-best by pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Joan Bonvicini: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 13 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to seven post-season appearances, including five NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

Entering her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 232-145 (.615) mark at Arizona and is 557-216 (.721) in 25 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-15 in NCAA tournament play and has lost in the first round only once in 13 appearances.

Prior to taking over at the UA, Bonvicini led Long Beach State to 10 consecutive NCAA appearances, including two trips to the Final Four. She registered a 325-71 mark in 12 seasons with the 49ers.

DID YOU KNOW: Since Joan Bonvicini took over the Arizona program in 1991, the Wildcats have gone 126-102 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 102-54 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Cats will play their final home games of the season when they play host to the Oregon schools. On Thursday, Feb. 19, Arizona faces Oregon State at 7 p.m., then the Wildcats will take on Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. in a contest will be broadcast in Oregon on the Oregon Sports Network.

Arizona will close out regular-season play on the road the following week. The Cats will play at Washington State on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. PST, then they take on Washington on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. PST. That contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- at UCLA (Feb. 12): Despite a season-high-tying 25 points from Dee-Dee Wheeler, the Wildcats suffered an 87-68 loss at UCLA on Feb. 12.

Arizona scored the first two points of the game, but that would prove to be the Cats' one and only lead of the game, as UCLA quickly jumped out to a 13-6 advantage at 14:25. The Wildcats used an 11-6 spurt to get back to within two points (19-17) six minutes later, but the Bruins reponded with an 11-1 run that gave them a 12-point (30-18) edge with 4:03 left in the half.

The Cats then scored 11 unanswered points to chop the deficit to just one point (30-29) with 1:18 left in the first, but the momentum swung back UCLA's way and the Bruins held a 35-29 lead at halftime.

Out-scoring Arizona 18-9 over the first six minutes of the second half, the Bruins gained a 19-point (57-38) advantage. The Wildcats scrapped back to within 14 points (57-43) at 12:00, but that was the closest Arizona came for the remainder of the game. With just under three minutes left, UCLA gained its largest lead of the game at 24 points (84-60) and rolled on to hand Arizona its second straight road loss.

In addition to her team-high 25 points, Wheeler racked up five assists. Shawntinice Polk logged 13 points and a game-high-tying 10 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Natalie Jones added eight points, five rebounds and five assists.

POLK ON PACE TO BE FASTEST TO 1,000 POINTS: With 919 points through the first 55 games of her career, Shawntinice Polk is on pace to be the fastest Wildcat ever to reach the 1,000-point mark. She also could become the first Wildcat to break that plateau as a sophomore. If she maintains her current scoring average, Polk could reach that mark during the final regular-season game at Washington on Feb. 28, which would be a total of 60 career contests.

Former Cat and all-time leading scorer Adia Barnes (1995-98) currently has the distinction of being fastest to reach 1,000, reaching that mark in 61 games, the first contest of her junior season. Dee-Dee Wheeler is currently the second-fastest, gaining that mark in just 70 career games.

CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.8 percent of their charity shots for the season, they have been hitting them when it counts the most. In the final five minutes of action during this season's games, the Cats are shooting 75.2 (82-109) percent from the free throw line, including a solid 77.6 (45-58) percent in Pac-10 action.

GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: Since entering Pac-10 play, the Wildcats' turnover average has gone through the roof. After averaging just 15.9 miscues per game in non-conference action, Arizona's average has gone up to 18.7 per contest in Pac-10 games. The Cats committed a season-high 36 turnovers in their win over USC at home on Jan. 15, the highest turnover total for an Arizona squad since the Wildcats had 36 at Arizona State on Jan. 17, 1998.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: The Cats are averaging eight more points in the second halves of this season's games than in the first halves.

The Wildcats have been posting a first-half average of just 32.2 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 40.6 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 1.4 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +6.5 ppg in the second half of play.

BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 10.7 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action.

POLKEY SOON TO JOIN ARIZONA SCORING LEADERS: Owning a career total of 919 points, Shawntinice Polk should join the ranks of scoring leaders at Arizona on Sunday at USC. She needs just four more points to tie former teammate Krista Warren for the No. 20 spot with 923 career points.

Polk is already among the career leaders in rebounding, currently standing sixth with 571 career boards.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Dee-Dee Wheeler's numbers through the first 10 games of this season were certainly nothing to scoff at. She posted averages of 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game, while shooting 43.7 percent (59-135) from the floor.

Yet, over Arizona's last 14 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 14 contests, she has averaged 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 50.5 percent (111-220) of her shots over the last 14 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in eight of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 11 of the last 14 games.

DON'T LIKE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE: The Wildcats have had a rough time in road games this season, especially since the start of Pac-10 play. Arizona is just 3-3 on the road in conference action and has lost its last two Pac-10 road contests.

Struggling on the road has become a disturbing trend for the Arizona program over the last few seasons. Since the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats are just 21-27 when playing on the road, including a paltry 13-20 mark in Pac-10 road games. The last time the Cats had a decent road record was in 1999-2000, when they were 9-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 away games.

JONES-ING FOR THE PAC-10: Sophomore guard Natalie Jones' numbers have gone up significantly since the Cats started Pac-10 play. Against conference opponents, she is averaging 10.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She is also shooting 41.1 percent (39-95) from the floor and 81.5 percent (53-65) from the line in Pac-10 action.

By contrast, Jones' averages against non-conference opponents were 6.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and she made just 27.2 percent (22-81) of her field goal attempts.

STUFF THIS: With 141 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk is already in second place on the UA career list in that category. She should become Arizona's all-time blocked shots leader before this season is over, as she needs just six swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147.

With her eight blocks against Cal on Feb. 7, Polkey joined the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots and currently stands in the No. 10 spot with 141. She will need to surpass Pickney's numbers to move up to No. 9 on the Pac-10 list, the spot that Pickney's performance currently holds.

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, or at least that's the way it has seemed since her arrival at Arizona. During Dee-Dee Wheeler's career, the Wildcats have gone 14-5 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 33-10 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 18 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and has hit 51.3 percent (123-240) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' six losses, Wheeler has a slightly higher scoring average (18.8 ppg), but she has shot just 40.9 percent (47-115) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 17-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 14-0 when tied or leading at the half... 16-1 when giving up 69 points or less, but 2-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 14-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 16-2 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 13-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 73 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts happened last season alone, and the Cats have logged five more 20-plus wins already this year.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.4 three-point field goals per game this season. While the Cats limited nonconference opponents to just 28.3 percent (54-191) shooting from beyond the arc, they have allowed Pac-10 teams to make 37.1 percent (99-267) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.

80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: It seems that the 80-point mark almost always means adding another to the "win" column for the Wildcats. In the 32-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 154-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 114-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.

GOING POLLING: Five of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 11 and LSU is No. 16. Arizona State and UC Santa Barbara were among teams receiving votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 11, and LSU is No. 16. Arizona State and USC both received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 392-437 (.473) all-time record, however it is 182-80 (.695) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 218-115 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 12-0 record at home, are 5-5 on the road and 1-1 in neutral contests. Last year, Arizona was 13-1 at home, 7-6 on the road and 2-2 in neutral games.

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