SAN JOSE, Calif. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team will have to wait more than a week to find out whether or not it will have a postseason as the Wildcats fell 74-66 to Southern California in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament at HP Pavilion tonight. With the loss, Arizona falls to 19-11 on the season.
Arizona shot 37 percent from the field, 23 percent from downtown and 65 percent from the charity stripe on the game, compared to the 37, 32 and 74 percent, respectively, of the Trojans. USC also out-rebounded the Wildcats 52 to 41.
“We played hard, but we didn’t finish either half and that was tough,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “We had a lead both times and we needed to sustain it. We are a much better shooting team than what we showed tonight, and that’s the key.”
Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler led Arizona with 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior Natalie Jones added 14 points as the only other Wildcat to reach double figures scoring. Freshman Jessica Arnold added nine points and a team-high four assists.
After recording double-doubles in three of the last four games, junior Shawntinice Polk was held to just eight points and six boards. However, she also nabbed five steals and dished out four assists.
Arizona jumped out to a 12-5 lead, making four of its first five shots. The Wildcats later led by as many as 10, but USC used a 5-0 run to make it a four-point game (26-22). The Trojans scored three straight baskets to take their first lead of the game with 3:27 left in the half. Arizona went into the locker room down by two points, 40-38.
The Wildcats shot 44 percent from the field, 17 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the free throw line on the game. USC connected on 41, 36 and 86 percent, respectively, on the half. The Women of Troy dominated the boards, pulling down 26 to Arizona’s 18. Jones led the Wildcats with nine points, followed by Wheeler with seven.
Arizona scored the first five points of the second half to take a three-point lead, but USC drained a trey to tie it. After three ties, the Wildcats scored five in a row to go up 53-48. Arizona led by as many as six, but the Trojans tied it at 57 at the 8:21 mark. USC then went on a 5-0 run to take a 63-58 lead. The Wildcats cut it to two on a Wheeler steal and lay-up, but the Trojans responded with a three-pointer to extend it back to five. Arizona made it a two-point game on a Polk free throw with 1:52 remaining, but failed to make a basket for the final 4:07 of the game, while USC made all six of its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Arizona will find out whether or not it receives a postseason bid during the NCAA Selection Show at 3 p.m. next Sunday, March 13.