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Arizona Women Head for Third Annual Pac-10 Conference Tournament
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/02/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 2, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: After tying Stanford for the Pac-10 regular-season championship, the University of Arizona (22-7 overall, 14-4 Pac-10) heads to San Jose, Calif., this week for the third annual State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament.

Earning the No. 2 seed by virtue of the tie-breaking procedure, the Wildcats will have to wait until after the first day of tournament action to find out who their first opponent will be. Arizona will face the winner of the game between No. 7 seed Oregon State and No. 10 seed Washington State, who play one another on Friday, Mar. 5. The Cats and either the Beavers or the Cougars will face off on Saturday, Mar. 6, at 1:15 p.m. PST. All of the Cats' tournament games can be heard live in Tucson on KJLL 1330 AM and over the internet at www.arizonaathletics.com.

If the Wildcats win their first game, they will advance to play the winner of the No. 3 USC-No. 6 Washington game on Sunday, Mar. 7, at 12:30 p.m. PST. The tournament championship game will be played on Monday, Mar. 8, at 7:30 p.m. PST. The games on both Sunday and Monday will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Earning the program's second-ever sweep in Washington last weekend, the Wildcats finished regular-season play with 22-7 overall and 14-4 Pac-10 records. Arizona ended a three-game road losing skid last weekend with wins at Washington State (77-72) on Feb. 26 and at Washington (71-54) on Feb. 28.

The Cats' 14-4 conference record equals the best league mark in the program's history, which was 14-4 in 1997-98. After finishing second three times before, the Wildcats finally earned head coach Joan Bonvicini's first conference title since her Long Beach State days in 1990-91.

Arizona has reached the 20-win mark for the fourth time in the last five years and the seventh time in the last nine seasons.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains Arizona's top scorer, averaging 17.7 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 16.4 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 10.2 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.6 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.8 ppg. Jones and sophomore forward CoCoa Sanford are tied for second on the team in rebounding, each averaging 4.4 per game.

ARIZONA POSSIBLE STARTERS:
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, So., Hanford, Calif.)
#50 - Shannon Hobson (F/C, 6-2, Fr., Perris, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, Jr., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Sr., San Jose, Calif.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, So., Anchorage, Alaska)

OFF THE BENCH:
#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, So., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, So., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Sr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, So., Glengowrie, Australia)
#10 - Linda Pace (G, 5-9, Fr., San Diego, Calif.)
#25 - Rachael Schein (G/F, 5-11, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 29, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (73.2 ppg), is first in field goal percentage (.462), second in scoring margin (+8.9 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.398), second in rebounding (38.2 rpg), second in rebounding defense (33.5 rpg), second in rebounding margin (+4.7 rpg), second in blocked shots (3.93 bpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.72 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.59 bpg), is second in rebounding (10.2 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.575) and fourth in scoring (16.4 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.7 ppg), third in steals (2.86 spg), fourth in assists (4.72 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27), sixth in field goal percentage (.481) and 10th in free throw percentage (.747).

Natalie Jones is eighth in free throw percentage (.769), while Aimee Grzyb is fifth in three-pointers made per game (1.66 pg) and 17th in scoring (10.6 ppg).

ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATS: As of Mar. 1, Arizona was 17th in the nation in field goal percentage (.462) and 29th in scoring (73.2 ppg). Shawntinice Polk was 14th in blocked shots (2.6 bpg), 14th in field goal percentage (.575) and 21st in rebounding (10.2 rpg).

WILDCATS IN THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT: Arizona holds a 2-2 record all-time in Pac-10 Tournament play. In San Jose last season, the third-seeded Wildcats plowed through No. 6 Oregon State (70-56) and No. 2 Washington (74-51) before coming up short against No. 1 seed Stanford (59-49) in the championship game. Wildcats Krista Warren, Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler were named to the All-Tournament Team.

That was a far better showing than Arizona had during the inaugural Pac-10 Tournament on the Oregon campus in 2002. Entering tourney action as the No. 6 seed, the Cats lost to No. 3 seed and eventual tournament champion Arizona State, 66-58, in their first game on Mar. 2, 2002.

POLKEY EARNS THIRD PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS (Mar. 1): Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 23-29. She averaged 20.5 points, 14.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and 3.0 assists in a road sweep against Washington and Washington State last week, giving Arizona a share of the program's first Pac-10 regular-season championship. On the week, Polk shot 66.7 percent from the field (20-of-30), and also notched her 35th and 36th career double-doubles, tying her for the most double-doubles in school history.

In the 77-72 victory over Washington State on Feb. 26, Polk shot 9-for-15 from the floor (60.0 percent) on her way to 19 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, six blocks and three steals. In that same game she scored 15 of her points in the first half. In the 71-54 triumph over Washington on Feb. 28, Polk tallied game-highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 11-for-15 (73.3 percent). Her 22 points pushed her over the 1,000-point mark, the fastest for an Arizona player (60 games) and the first time a Wildcat sophomore has surpassed that milestone.

The honor is Polk's third this season, seventh for her career, and 32nd all-time for Arizona.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: Ending regular-season play with four straight losses, the seventh-seeded Beavers are 14-13 overall and 8-10 in Pac-10 action. Oregon State was swept by California (66-57) and Stanford (67-66) at home last weekend.

Averaging 15.7 points per game, junior guard Shannon Howell leads OSU in scoring. Senior center Brina Chaney is second in both scoring (10.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg), while fellow senior Krystal Turner is the squad's top rebounder, grabbing 5.9 per game.

In her ninth season at the helm of her alma mater's program, head coach Judy Spoelstra (Oregon State, 1983) has a 124-133 mark with the Beavers. She is 222-201 in 15 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. OREGON STATE: Arizona has a narrow 20-19 lead in the series with Oregon State and has won four of the last five meetings with the Beavers. Earlier this season, the Cats logged a 65-54 win in Corvallis on Jan. 24, then registered a 77-54 victory in Tucson on Feb. 19. Arizona's last loss to OSU was a 71-65 overtime defeat in Corvallis last season on Jan. 30, 2003.

The Wildcats faced the Beavers on the second day of action (Mar. 8) during last year's Pac-10 Tournament, with Arizona claiming a 70-56 victory to advance to the tourney semifinals.

LAST MEETING WITH OREGON STATE: Holding Oregon State to just 20 first-half points, the Wildcats ripped off a 77-54 win over the Beavers at home on Feb. 19.

Arizona opened the game with a 14-5 spurt in less than five minutes, then used a 13-6 run to gain a 16-point (27-11) lead at 11:31. Oregon State countered with five unanswered points to get back to within 11 (27-16) with 8:17 to go in the first, then the Wildcat defense kicked into high gear. Allowing the Beavers just one field goal in the final eight minutes of the half, the Cats out-scored OSU, 18-4, over the remainder of the period to take a 45-20 lead at the break.

The Wildcats began the second half with a 21-11 run to go up by 35 points (66-31), their largest lead of the game, at 13:21. When head coach Joan Bonvicini began emptying her bench, OSU took advantage of the opportunity to go on a 16-4 run that brought the Beavers back to within 23 points (70-47) with just over four minutes left in the game. Arizona quelled the comeback attempt and rolled to its 26th consecutive home victory.

Shooting 8-for-14 from the floor, Shawntinice Polk led all scorers with game highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Aimee Grzyb hit 6-for-9 from the field on her way to 15 points and four rebounds, while Dee-Dee Wheeler just missed a double-double with 12 points and a career-high nine assists. Shannon Hobson added 11 points and five rebounds.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: Losing 19 of their last 21 games, the 10th-seeded Cougars nearly nipped Arizona in Pullman on Feb. 26, but they succeeded against Arizona State, logging a 75-72 victory over the Sun Devils on Feb. 28. WSU is now 6-21 overall and 2-16 in Pac-10 play.

Senior forward Bianca McCall leads Washington State in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game, and is second in rebounding, at 6.0 per game. Freshman forward Kate Benz is leading the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and is second in scoring, averaging 9.0 ppg.

WSU head coach Sherri Murrell (Pepperdine, 1991) is in her second season with the Cougars, tallying an 8-47 record. She holds a career mark of 128-126 in 10 seasons.

THE SERIES vs. WASHINGTON STATE: The Wildcats lead the series with WSU, 19-17, and have won five in a row over the Cougars. Arizona handed Washington State a 78-51 loss in Tucson on Dec. 29, but the Cats escaped with a 77-72 win on Feb. 26 in Pullman. Arizona has not lost to WSU since a 93-86 defeat in Pullman on Feb. 10, 2001.

LAST MEETING WITH WASHINGTON STATE: A 15-point second half from Dee-Dee Wheeler provided the Wildcats with the edge they needed to slip past Washington State, 77-72, on Feb. 26 in Pullman.

The Cats opened the game with a 16-7 run through the first seven minutes, only to see Washington State put on its own 20-6 spurt to gain a five-point (27-22) advantage with just over eight minutes left in the first. A 9-2 run gave the Cats a brief two-point (31-29) lead at 4:14. WSU out-scored Arizona, 9-8, over the remainder of the period, but the Wildcats still held onto a 39-38 lead at the break.

Arizona began the second half with a 9-3 spurt over the first five minutes to go ahead by seven points (48-41), and five minutes later, the Cats stretched their advantage to 10 points (59-49). The Wildcats still held a double-digit lead with 5:52 remaining, then the Cougars began chipping away at the spread.

WSU went on an 11-5 run that included a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to chop the Cats' lead to just five points (75-70). The Cougars began fouling to stop the clock, and although the Cats made just two of their four late free throw attempts, they made WSU miss the only shot it got off in the waning seconds of the game.

After being held to just five points in the first half, Wheeler drained a trio of three-pointers late in the contest and finished with a team-high 20 points. She also added five assists and four steals. Shawntinice Polk ripped off 15 first-half points on her way to 19 for the game, along with a team-high 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots. Aimee Grzyb added 12 points and four assists, while CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for 10 points.

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.

Now in her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 236-146 (.618) mark at Arizona and is 561-217 (.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 130-103 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 106-55 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: On Sunday, Mar. 14, the Wildcats will gather to watch the NCAA Selection Show, which starts at 3 p.m. MST. The Cats will be looking for their second straight NCAA tournament berth, their sixth appearance all-time.

NCAA first- and second-round games will be played at various host institutions from Saturday, Mar. 20, through Tuesday, Mar. 23.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- at Washington (Feb. 28): Holding one of the conference's most potent offenses to just four points in the final five minutes, Arizona knocked off Washington, 71-54, in Seattle on Feb. 28 and won a share of the program's first regular-season Pac-10 championship. The victory was also Arizona's first in UW's Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

With Shawntinice Polk scoring eight of the Cats' first 10 points, Arizona jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. During that stretch, at the 13-minute mark, Polk became the fastest Wildcat to reach the 1,000-point plateau, doing so in just 60 career games. She is also the first Arizona sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Washington got things moving offensively midway through the first, using an 11-7 spurt to slash the Cats' lead to two points (22-20) with a little more than five minutes left in the half. Just under the three-minute mark, the Huskies drained a three to get to within one point (26-25). Arizona out-scored Washington, 8-3, over the remainder of the period to take a 34-28 lead into the break.

Arizona began the second half with an 11-2 run that gave the Cats a 45-30 lead in the first three minutes of the period. Washington then scored nine unanswered points to pull back to within six (45-39), but the Wildcats responded with an 11-4 spurt that pushed their lead to 13 points (56-43) with just over eight minutes left in the game.

The Huskies scored five straight points from the free throw line to get back to within eight (56-48), but back-to-back buckets from Polk gave Arizona permanent control of the game. The Cats out-scored Washington, 11-4, over the last five minutes of the contest as they rolled to their fourth consecutive win.

Polk finished with game highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds for her 36th career double-double, tying the school record for most career double-doubles. Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler added 17 points, while Aimee Grzyb had 15 points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward CoCoa Sanford racked up 11 points and a career-high nine rebounds.

At Washington State (Feb. 26): A 15-point second half from Dee-Dee Wheeler provided the Wildcats with the edge they needed to slip past Washington State, 77-72, on Feb. 26 in Pullman.

The Cats opened the game with a 16-7 run through the first seven minutes, only to see Washington State put on its own 20-6 spurt to gain a five-point (27-22) advantage with just over eight minutes left in the first. A 9-2 run gave the Cats a brief two-point (31-29) lead at 4:14. WSU out-scored Arizona, 9-8, over the remainder of the period, but the Wildcats still held onto a 39-38 lead at the break.

Arizona began the second half with a 9-3 spurt over the first five minutes to go ahead by seven points (48-41), and five minutes later, the Cats stretched their advantage to 10 points (59-49). The Wildcats still held a double-digit lead with 5:52 remaining, then the Cougars began chipping away at the spread.

WSU went on an 11-5 run that included a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to chop the Cats' lead to just five points (75-70). The Cougars began fouling to stop the clock, and although the Cats made just two of their four late free throw attempts, they made WSU miss the only shot it got off in the waning seconds of the game.

After being held to just five points in the first half, Wheeler drained a trio of three-pointers late in the contest and finished with a team-high 20 points. She also added five assists and four steals. Shawntinice Polk ripped off 15 first-half points on her way to 19 for the game, along with a team-high 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots. Aimee Grzyb added 12 points and four assists, while CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for 10 points.

POLK BREAKS 1,000-POINT MARK: At the 13:02 mark of the first half at Washington on Feb. 28, sophomore center Shawntinice Polk scored the 1,000th point of her career, reaching that milestone in just 60 games. That makes her the fastest Wildcat and the only UA sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

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

GRZYB BECOMES ALL-TIME MINUTES LEADER: Late in the first half at Washington on Feb. 28, senior guard Aimee Grzyb became Arizona's career leader in minutes played, now with 3723. The previous record holder was Regina Grennan (1987-90) with 3700 minutes.

STUFF THIS: Just a sophomore, Shawntinice Polk is already Arizona's career leader in blocked shots, now with 155. Against Oregon on Feb. 21, she passed former Wildcat Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), who tallied 147 blocks in her career.

Polkey also stands in the No. 9 spot on the Pac-10 career blocked shots chart. She needs just seven more swats to move up to No. 8, a spot currently occupied by USC's Michelle Campbell (1994-97), with 162.

CRASHING THE BOARDS: With 296 rebounds on the season, Shawntinice Polk needs just 40 more to break the single season record of 335 that she set last year.

Polk's total of 209 rebounds in Pac-10 play is a new school record for the most rebounds in conference action. She surpassed her own mark of 176 set last season. Her average of 11.6 boards per game in league action this year is a new school record as well.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.3 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 allowed Pac-10 teams to make 37.5 percent (129-344) of their three-point attempts. Arizona allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.

The Wildcats set a new school record this season by allowing Pac-10 opponents to hit 129 three-pointers in league play. The previous record was 106, set by the 2001-02 team.

STICKY FINGERS: Dee-Dee Wheeler has amassed a career-best season total of 83 steals this year, the highest number of steals for any Wildcat since Reshea Bristol set the school record at 96 thefts during the 2000-01 season. Wheeler's 83 currently ranks fourth on the UA's single-season top 10 list in that category.

In Pac-10 play, Wheeler set a new school record with 62 steals against conference opponents. The previous record was 57, set by Keisha Anderson during Pac-10 play in 1992-93.

STARTING SUITS HER: Freshman forward Shannon Hobson seems finally to be coming into her own. Since entering the starting lineup for the Cats 11 games ago, Hobson has averaged 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and has made 50.9 percent (27-53) of her shot attempts. She has also played a total of 217 minutes in the last 11 games, which is more than she had played in the previous 18 games combined (186). Hobson averaged just 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game when coming off the bench.

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 19 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 19 contests, she has averaged 19.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.4 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 50.2 percent (144-287) of her shots over the last 19 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in 10 of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 13 of the last 19 games.

GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: After entering Pac-10 play, the Wildcats' turnover average went through the roof. After averaging just 15.9 miscues per game in non-conference action, Arizona's average went up to 18.4 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.

BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 10.8 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action.

JONES-ING FOR THE PAC-10: Sophomore guard Natalie Jones' numbers went up significantly after the Cats started Pac-10 play. Against conference opponents, she averaged 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She also shot a solid 40.8 percent (58-142) from the floor 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.

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 15-6 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 36-11 when she scores 15 points or more.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 21-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 18-1 when tied or leading at the half... 19-2 when giving up 69 points or less, but 3-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 18-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 19-3 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 17-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 75 games by margins of 20 points or more. Seven of those blowouts have happened this season alone.

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 155-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 115-14 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. 12 and LSU is No. 15. New Mexico was among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 11, and LSU is No. 14. Arizona State and UCLA both received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 396-438 (.475) all-time record, however it is 186-81 (.697) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 222-116 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 14-0 record at home, are 7-6 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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