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Arizona Women's Basketball Faces Oklahoma in NCAA First Round
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/15/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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COMING UP: Appearing in its third-straight NCAA Tournament, the Arizona women’s basketball team (19-11) has earned the No. 9 seed in the Chattanooga Region and will play in first- and second-round games at Thompson-Boling Arena, the largest on-campus arena in the country.

The Wildcats will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on No. 8 seed Oklahoma (17-12) at noon (EDT) Sunday, March 20. The second game of the doubleheader features No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked Louisiana State (29-2) against 16th-seeded Stetson (17-13) at approximately 2:30 p.m. The second-round game will be played on Tuesday, March 22, but a tip-off time will not be announced until late Sunday evening.

All Wildcat games through the duration of the NCAA Tournament will be broadcast live in Tucson on KJLL 1330 AM, with Paul Johnson calling all the action. The radio broadcasts are also available over the internet at www.arizonaathletics.com.

ARIZONA AND THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This is Arizona’s third-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, after a two-year absence in 2001 and 2002. The Wildcats now have a total of seven NCAA appearances, four of which came consecutively from the 1996-97 season through the 1999-2000 season. Arizona is 5-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament games and has lost in the first round just twice, in each of the last two years. The deepest the Cats have ever advanced was to the East Regional semifinals in 1997-98. The Wildcats have been seeded as high as No. 3 (1997-98) and as low as No. 9 (last year and this year).

NCAA TOURNAMENT TELECASTS: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN FULL COURT will combine to present all 63 games of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. New this year, ESPNU will offer national coverage of 14 games from the first and second rounds. It will mark the third consecutive year ESPN has televised the entire Championship. The networks will once again regionalize early-round coverage (48 games within 15 telecast windows). Different games will be offered to different areas with all regions receiving frequent updates on other game action. Beginning with the regional semifinals, all 15 games will be televised nationally.

ARIZONA VS. THIS YEAR’S FIELD: During the 2004-05 season, Arizona has faced nine of the team’s in this year’s tournament field - Arizona State (1-1), Georgia (0-1), Maryland (0-1), Ohio State (0-1), Oregon (1-1), Rice (1-0), Stanford (0-2), UC Santa Barbara (1-0) and USC (1-2). The Wildcats have a 5-9 record against these teams.

In the 33-year history of the program, the Wildcats have faced 37 of the 63 schools in this year’s NCAA Tournament, posting a 114-200 record.

ARIZONA’S LAST NCAA TOURNEY ACTION: March 21, 2004 - vs. #23 Michigan State (NCAA West Region First Round): Despite a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds from Shawntinice Polk, the ninth-seeded Wildcats fell to No. 8 seed and 23rd-ranked Michigan State, 72-60, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Arizona shot 40 percent from the field compared to the 48 percent of the Spartans, and the Wildcats were also out-rebounded 41 to 31. Dee-Dee Wheeler was the only other Wildcat to reach double digits in scoring, with 11 points, five assists and four steals. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb added eight points and three steals, while Natalie Jones had seven points, four assists and four steals. Shannon Hobson grabbed seven boards, as did Danielle Adefeso.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS: Arizona fell 74-66 to Southern California in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament at HP Pavilion on March 5. The Wildcats 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 Arizona 52 to 41. 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.

On the season, the Wildcats are led by Wheeler, who averages 17.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Polk adds 12.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. As a team, Arizona is out-shooting its opponents 44 percent to 38 percent, but being edged on the boards, 38.1 to 38.0.

SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:

Oklahoma - Oklahoma (17-12) finished the Big 12 Conference race tied for sixth place with an 8-8 record. The Sooners defeated Texas A&M, 86-65, in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, before falling 65-59 to No. 10/11 Texas in the quarterfinals.

On the season, Oklahoma is led by Dionnah Jackson and Leah Rush, who average 14.8 and 14.6 points per game, respectively. Jackson also pulls down a team-high 8.2 rebounds and dishes out 5.7 assists per game. As a team, the Sooners shoot 42 percent from the field, compared to the 38 percent of their opponents. They also out-rebound their opponents 39.9 to 36.6.

The Sooners sport an overall NCAA record of 12-7 and have gone 6-3 over the last three years. Under Head Coach Sherri Coale, OU is 10-5 in NCAA Tournament games.

LSU - Scholanda Hoston’s three-pointer hit the rim and fell out with four seconds left to play as LSU fell 67-65 to Tennessee in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament last Sunday. LSU (29-2) held a four-point lead with 1:33 left to play in the game after a jumper by Temeka Johnson, but Tennessee (26-4) ended the game with a 6-2 run to claim the school’s first tournament title since 2000. Johnson finished the game with 13 points and 12 assists to earn all-tournament honors, while teammate Seimone Augustus had 23 points and five rebounds and also made the all-tournament team. The Lady Tigers shot 45 percent from the floor, but just 37 percent in the second half. They also grabbed 30 rebounds, while Tennessee hit 44 percent of its shots and had 35 boards.

On the season, LSU is led by Augustus, who averages 20.1 points and 4.5 rebounds. Sylvia Fowles adds 12.0 and 9.0 rebounds, while Johnson averages 10.0 points per game. As a team, the Lady Tigers are shooting 47 percent from the field, compared to the 34 percent of their opponents. LSU is outscoring its opponents 72.1 to 53.0 and out-rebounding them 39.3 to 34.1.

Stetson - The Hatters are making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance after claiming the Atlantic Sun Women’s Basketball Championship title with a commanding 88-62 win against Georgia State last Saturday. Stetson opened the game with a 16-6 run over the first four minutes and never looked back, controlling the game for the entire 40 minutes. In the first half alone, Kristy Brown and Nefertiti Walker combined for 33 points to outscore Georgia State’s 31 points. Brown racked up a season-high 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting. She also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists. Walker added 24 points and four assists. Both players were named to the all-tournament team and Brown was chosen tournament MVP. The Hatters held a 35 to 22 rebounding advantage and shot a season-high 63 percent from the floor, more than 20 percent better than the Lady Panthers.

On the season, the Hatters are led by Brown, who averages a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.9 rebounds. Walker adds 15.7 points per game. As a team, Stetson is shooting 39 percent from the field, compared to the 40 percent of its opponents. The Hatters are out-rebounding opponents 40.9 to 39.0, but are being outscored 67.1 to 65.3.

SERIES SHORTS:

Oklahoma - Arizona has only faced the Sooners one time, winning 75-59 on Nov. 19, 1999, in the first round of the Rainbow Wahine Classic.

LSU - The Wildcats are 1-2 all-time vs. the Lady Tigers, having dropped the last two meetings. On Nov. 22, 2002, Arizona lost 78-71 in overtime at McKale. The following season, on Jan. 4, 2004, the Wildcats fell 76-66 in Baton Rouge, La.

Stetson - Arizona has never faced the Hatters.

WHEELER, POLK NAMED ALL-REGION: Junior center Shawntinice Polk and senior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler are finalists for the 2005 NCAA Division I Kodak/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America Basketball Team. The duo are two of 48 finalists for the 10-member team. This is the third such honor for Polk and the first for Wheeler.

Joining Polk and Wheeler from Region 8, which includes member schools from the Pac-10, Big West and West Coast Conferences, are Nikki Blue of UCLA, Cathrine Kraayeveld of Oregon, Kristen Mann of UC Santa Barbara and Candice Wiggins of Stanford.

The Kodak/WBCA All-America Basketball Team will be announced on April 2 at a press conference at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, Ind.

ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler and junior center Shawntinice Polk were named to the All-Pac-10 Team, while Jessica Arnold and Ashley Whisonant were named honorable mention All-Freshman.

Wheeler was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 13-19 and was the MVP of the Fiesta Classic. She has reached double-digit scoring in 28 of 30 games this season and has scored 20 or more points 11 times.

Polk, who has been hampered by a knee injury, has a Pac-10-leading nine double-doubles. She was named to the all-tournament teams for the Preseason WNIT and the Fiesta Classic and has reached double-digit scoring 21 times. She has also shot 50 percent or better from the field in 17 games this season and has pulled down 10 or more rebounds 11 times.

Arnold, a Tucson native, started 23 of 26 games, but missed four games after suffering a shoulder injury. Whisonant has started three games, appearing in all 30, and was named to the all-tournament team at the Fiesta Classic.

SINGLE SEASON RECORD SETTERS: Several Wildcats have set individual season records in games thus far this season. Dee-Dee Wheeler ranks third in field goals attempted (464) and steals (87), fifth in scoring average (17.8), sixth in points scored (535), eighth in field goals made (207), tied for eighth in three-point field goals attempted (144), 10th in minutes played (1,000) and tied for 10th in three-point field goals made (49). Junior Shawntinice Polk is third in blocks (59), tied for eighth in double-doubles (9), tied for ninth in rebounds (228) and ninth in rebounding average (8.1). Freshman Jessica Arnold ranks third in three-point field goal percentage (.408).

As a team, the Wildcats set new season records in blocked shots (121), fewest opponent steals (181), fewest opponent field goals made (662) and highest opponent free throw percentage (.759).

RANKING NATIONALLY: As a team, Arizona ranks 29th nationally in scoring, 36th in field goal percentage, 61st in blocked shots, 67th in assists and 72 in three-point field goal percentage.

Individually, senior Dee-Dee Wheeler ranks 29th in steals and 40th in points per game. Junior Shawntinice Polk ranks 28th in field goal percentage and 35th in blocks.

CURRENT CATS ON UA CAREER LISTS: Senior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is first in steals (301), games started (116) and minutes played (3,960), tied for first in minutes played average (32.5), second in scoring (1,937), field goals made (753) and field goals attempted (1,649), tied for second in games played (122), third in scoring average (15.9), fourth in three-point field goals made (183) and three-point field goals attempted (517), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.354), sixth in assists (463), seventh in free throws made (248), eighth in turnovers (381), ninth in personal fouls (295) and tied for ninth in free throws attempted (340). She is also one rebound away from the Top 10.

Junior Shawntinice Polk is first in double-doubles (46), blocks (219) and rebounding average (9.8), second in field goal percentage (.578) and total rebounds (902), third in field goals made (596), fourth in scoring average (15.7) and scoring (1,448), sixth in free throws made (256) and free throws attempted (450), seventh in minutes played average (28.8), eighth in games started (87) and 10th in field goals attempted (1031) and personal fouls (290).

Junior Natalie Jones is eighth in free throw percentage (.754) and three-point field goals attempted (241), and ninth in three-point field goals made (70).

POWERFUL PAC: Five Pacific-10 Conference teams will compete in the 2005 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, third-most among the major conferences and the most selections for the league since 1998, when five teams were given slots. The ACC led the nation with seven teams, followed by the Big 12 with six. The Pac-10 is sending as many teams as the SEC and Big Ten.

BONVICINI AND POSTSEASON PLAY: The winningest coach in Arizona women’s basketball history, Joan Bonvicini is making her 21st career postseason appearance (17 NCAA, two WNIT, two AIAW) and ninth (seven NCAA, two WNIT) at Arizona. In NCAA Tournament play, she boasts a 23-16 (.590) record (18-10 at Long Beach State, 5-6 at Arizona).

BY THE NUMBERS: Arizona has won 10 games this season by margins of 15 points or more, and seven games by 20 or more points. The Wildcats are 16-2 when scoring 70 or more points. Arizona has dished out 14 or more assists in 18 games and has nabbed 10 or more steals in 15 games. The Wildcats have forced their opponents into 20 or more turnovers in 16 contests. Arizona has at least one blocked shot in 29 of 30 games.

WINS VS. LOSSES: There is a big difference in Arizona’s statistics in its victories vs. its defeats this season:

Stats in Wins PPG Margin RPG Margin FG% 3FG% FT% APG TOPG BPG SPG
Arizona 77.9 +16.7 39.8 +3.9 .477 .394 .661 16.5 17.5 4.4 9.4
Opponents 61.2 35.9 .352 .277 .742 10.6 20.9 2.1 5.2
Stats in Losses PPG Margin RPG Margin FG% 3FG% FT% APG TOPG BPG SPG
Arizona 60.3 -13.7 34.9 -6.9 .370 .243 .622 11.9 18.2 3.4 8.9
Opponents 74 41.8 .436 .380 .784 16.3 19 2.5 7.5

WHEELER SCORES 500 IN THIRD-STRAIGHT SEASON: In Arizona’s win over Washington State on Feb. 24, senior captain Dee-Dee Wheeler surpassed the 500-point mark for the third consecutive season. The Chicago native currently has 535 points this season. She needs 23 points to reach her 2003-04 total of 558.

ADEFESO STEPS IT UP: Over the last 13 games, senior Danielle Adefeso has really picked up her game. Starting 12 of the 13 games, she is shooting 42 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line, while averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Prior to that, Adefeso was averaging 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

HALFTIME SCORE INDICATIVE OF FINAL RESULT: This season, the Wildcats’ halftime score is 90 percent reliable in predicting the final score. Arizona is 18-2 when leading at the half and 1-9 when trailing. The Wildcats lost on Feb. 26 to Washington after leading by two points at the half and also fell at USC on Jan. 14 after leading at halftime. Arizona came back to defeat Arizona State at home on Jan. 26 after trailing 27-23 at the intermission.

LOSING TO QUALITY OPPONENTS: Of Arizona’s 11 losses this season, nine came at the hands of NCAA Tournament participants. In addition, nine of the Wildcats’ 11 losses were to teams with an RPI of 50 or better, while six of Arizona’s 11 losses were to teams with an RPI of 25 or higher.

MAKING FREE THROWS COUNT: After shooting just 60 percent from the free throw line over the first 17 games of the season, Arizona has shot 70 percent or better in seven of its last 13 games and 80 percent or better three times. During that time, the Wildcats are 189 of 266 (71 percent) from the charity stripe.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE: During her career, junior Shawntinice Polk has recorded 46 double-doubles (21 as a freshman, 16 as a sophomore and nine as a junior). The longest streak came at the start of her career, when she opened the 2002-03 season with eight consecutive double-doubles. During her three seasons, the Wildcats are 34-12 (.739) when Polk notches a double-double.

WHEELER CAPTURES MINUTES PLAYED RECORD: With her third minute logged in the Feb. 24 game against Washington State, senior Dee-Dee Wheeler moved into first place in the Arizona career record books in minutes played. She has now played 3,960 minutes during her four-year career.

THE GLASS IS THE ANSWER: It seems the most telling statistic for the Arizona women’s basketball team this season is rebounding. The Wildcats are 15-1 when out-rebounding their opponents. Arizona is 3-9 when being out-rebounded and 1-1 when pulling down the same number of boards as its opponents this season.

WHEELER MAKES HISTORY AT OREGON: Senior captain Dee-Dee Wheeler made her 113th career start at Oregon on Feb. 19, putting her in sole possession of first place in the Arizona record books. The Chicago native started 24 of 28 games as a freshman, 30 of 31 as a sophomore, all 33 as a junior and 29 of 30 this season. She is one game away from the all-time games played record.

WILDCATS BOAST PAC’S ACTIVE SCORING LEADERS: Arizona boasts the Pac-10’s top two active career scoring leaders in All-America candidates Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk. The point guard Wheeler currently has 1,937 career points, while Polk has scored 1,448 points in her three seasons at Arizona. Polk is also the active Pac-10 rebounding and blocks leader, while Wheeler is eight steals shy of the Pac-10 all-time steals record.

80 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: In the program’s 33-year history, the Wildcats are almost guaranteed a win when they reach 80 points. Arizona is 173-20 (90 percent) all-time when reaching the 80-point plateau, and with Joan Bonvicini at the helm, the Wildcats are 125-13 (91 percent). This year alone, Arizona is 9-0 in games where it has reached 80 points in the scoring column.

WHEELER AND DOUBLE-DIGIT SCORING: Point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler has scored 10 or more points in 108 of her 122 career games. Her streak of 48 consecutive games in double-figure scoring came to an end Jan. 14 at USC as the senior finished with just five points. She posted double-digit scoring in 19 of 28 games as a freshman, 28 of 31 as a sophomore, all 33 as a junior and 28 of 30 games this season, including 11 games with 20 or more points.

BONVICINI WINS 250TH GAME AT ARIZONA: Joan Bonvicini notched her 250th win as the head coach at Arizona when the Wildcats defeated then-No. 19 UCLA on the road on Jan. 16. In 14 years at the helm, she boasts a 257-159 (.618) record and is the winningest coach in Arizona women’s basketball history.

CATS NEARLY UNBEATABLE AT HOME: Over the past three seasons, Arizona has won 40 of 44 (.909) games at McKale Center. The Cats’ 34-game home winning streak, the longest in the nation, came to an end Jan. 9 when the team fell 78-66 to Stanford.

POLK SURPASSES 200-BLOCK MARK: With her third block of the game against Maryland on Jan. 29, junior center Shawntinice Polk notched her 200th career block, becoming the first Wildcat ever to reach that mark. She now has 219 blocked shots on her career.

WHEELER BECOMES ARIZONA’S STEAL LEADER: Senior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler tied the school record for career steals at the 10:41 mark in the first half of the game at Southern California on Jan. 14 and took sole possession of the record with 11:08 left in the game. She now has 301 steals on her career.

ARIZONA RANKS NATIONALLY IN ATTENDANCE: Arizona currently ranks 44th nationally in attendance with an average attendance of 2,573. Tennessee is the leader with a 13,693 average, while Pac-10 opponents Oregon, Stanford and Washington rank 27th, 28th and 33rd, respectively, at 3,896, 3,891 and 3,304.

UP NEXT: Should Arizona defeat Oklahoma, it will face the winner of the LSU-Stetson game on Tuesday, March 22. Game time will be announced late Sunday.

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