TUCSON, Ariz. ?- Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler was named tournament MVP, and Shawntinice Polk, Natalie Jones and Ashley Whisonant were also named to the all-tournament team as the No. 25 Arizona women’s basketball team handily defeated Weber State 80-53 to claim the championship of the Mission Management & Trust 2004 Fiesta Classic at McKale Center this afternoon. With the win, Arizona improves to 5-1 on the season.
Arizona shot 46 percent from the field, 33 percent from three-point range and a season-high 86 percent from the free throw line on the game. Meanwhile, Weber State made just 26 percent of its shots from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Arizona also out-rebounded Weber State 49 to 30.
“A lot of it starts with our defense,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “I think it took us a while to adjust in the first half. They were playing a sagging man-to-man defense and we were taking quick jumpers instead of moving the ball. We made some adjustments and started to hit some shots.”
“I was disappointed in our defense early,” she continued. “We got into foul trouble and weren’t playing smart. We came out in the second half with a few adjustments and played well for the most part. I think for every game except the Ohio State game we have done a good job of holding our opponents to a low field goal percentage.”
Wheeler finished with a game-high 20 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Polk tallied 14 points, seven rebounds five assists, five blocks and two steals, while Jones notched a double-double ?- 11 rebounds and 10 points. Whisonant added 11 points and four boards.
Arizona slowly built a nine-point (23-14) lead in the first half, but Weber State wouldn’t go away, draining a pair of threes to make it a 26-23 game. By halftime, Arizona had extended its lead to eight points, 38-30.
Arizona shot 55 percent from the field, but just 22 percent from three-point range and 67 percent from the line on the half, while Weber State shot 26 percent from the field, 33 percent from downtown and 80 percent from the free throw line. Weber State also out-rebounded Arizona 18 to 16. Wheeler led all players with 11 points, while Polk added eight.
Arizona scored the first five points of the second half and never looked back, building its lead to as many as 29 points and winning by 27, 80-53. Arizona out-shot Weber State 40 percent to 25 percent and out-rebounded them 33 to 12 on the half. Jones led the way for Arizona with 10 points and eight rebounds, while Wheeler scored nine points on the half.
“Each game, the players are starting to understand their roles and how to play together. We are starting to play better. We are going to need all that and more to beat a good, physical Georgia team.”
During the two tournament games, Wheeler averaged 19.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals, while Polk put up averages of 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 blocks and 3.5 assists. Whisonant averaged 13.5 points and 3.0 boards, while Jones added 12.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
The complete all-tournament team is listed below:
Natalie Jones, Arizona
Shawntinice Polk, Arizona
Ashley Whisonant, Arizona
Tiara Malcolm, Delaware
Julie Gjertsen, Weber State
Tournament MVP: Dee-Dee Wheeler, Arizona
Arizona travels to No. 6 Georgia for a 2 p.m. (EDT) game next Sunday, Dec. 12.