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Wildcat Women Play at Arizona State in Only Action of the Week
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/27/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 27, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Facing its third straight road game, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (16-4 overall; 8-1 Pac-10) will be looking for its first win in Tempe since 2000, when the Wildcats take on Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m. in Wells Fargo Arena. The contest will be broadcast live in the Phoenix area on KAZ-TV.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats are 16-4 overall and 8-1 in Pac-10 play after earning a sweep at Oregon (70-66) and Oregon State (65-54) last weekend. Stanford's loss at USC over the weekend enabled the Cats to move into a tie with the Cardinal for first place in the Pac-10 standings.

Arizona's 8-1 conference record is the program's best mark ever through the first nine games of Pac-10 play. The Cats' 16-4 overall mark is the best record Arizona has had through the first 20 games of a season since the 1999-2000 team went 17-3 over the same stretch.

The Wildcats have won 23 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 29 games before a Feb. 1 meeting with Texas Tech, followed by Utah with a 24-game streak. The Utes don't play at home again until a Feb. 12 matchup with Colorado State.

On a four-game win streak, the Cats just missed being ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 by one vote, earning 52 votes, a significant improvement from last week's 16 votes. The Wildcats didn't fare quite as well in the USA Today Coaches Poll, logging 30 votes, just eight more than last week's 22.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.9 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.1 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.6 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.5 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 7.9 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.2 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.)

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 23: With their win over UCLA on Jan. 17, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 23 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 32 of their last 39 home games and are 108-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 139-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 205-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Jan. 25, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.462), is second in scoring (72.7 ppg), second in scoring margin (+9.7 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.391), second in rebounding defense (33.0 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+5.5 rpg) and third in blocked shots (3.70 bpg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.45 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.6 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.571) and sixth in scoring (16.1 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.4 ppg), third in assists (4.90 apg), fourth in steals (2.55 spg), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.29) and eighth in field goal percentage (.476).

Aimee Grzyb is sixth in three-pointers made per game (1.75 pg) and 15th in scoring (10.7 ppg), while Natalie Jones is fourth in free throw percentage (.814).

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: Winners of four of their last five games, the Sun Devils are 12-6 overall and 6-3 in Pac-10 play, holding down fourth place in the league standings. ASU also earned a sweep in Oregon last weekend, defeating Oregon State (63-56) on Jan. 22 and slipping past Oregon (69-67) on Jan. 24.

Two Sun Devils are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by junior guard Betsy Boardman with 12.0 points per game. Sophomore forward Kristen Kovesdy is second, at 10.4 ppg, and is the team's second-leading rebounder, at 5.2 rpg. Fellow sophomore Amy Denson leads ASU in rebounding, grabbing 5.3 per game.

In her eighth season at Arizona State, head coach Charli Turner Thorne (Stanford, 1988) holds a 118-106 record with the Sun Devils. She is 158-146 in 10 years as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils hold a 36-29 lead in the series with Arizona, including five wins in the last eight meetings between the two squads. The Wildcats have won two in a row over ASU, most recently defeating the Sun Devils, 81-60, on Jan. 2 in Tucson.

Arizona is 12-19 all-time when playing in Tempe, including a 73-58 loss there last season. The Cats have lost three in a row at Wells Fargo Arena, with their last win there coming on Feb. 26, 2000, by a score of 72-61.

LAST MEETING WITH ARIZONA STATE: Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler combined for 46 points as the Wildcats trounced rival Arizona State, 81-60, at home on Jan. 2. The victory was the 10th in a row for Arizona, tying a school record for the longest winning streak in the history of the program.

The first half of the game was one of short spurts for both teams. ASU held a 7-6 edge three minutes into the contest, when Arizona scored eight unanswered points to go ahead, 14-7, at 13:22. The Cats still held onto a seven-point (16-9) edge a minute later, but the Sun Devils put on their own 10-2 run, taking advantage of three Arizona turnovers and several missed shots to regain a one-point (19-18) lead at 9:46.

Arizona responded with another 8-0 run, which was answered by a 9-2 ASU burst. During the final four minutes of the first half, there were four lead changes and four ties, and the score was knotted at 37-37 at the break.

The Cats opened the second half with a 20-7 run that gave them a 13-point (57-44) lead with 11:40 to play. Holding just an 11-point edge four minutes later, Arizona went on a 10-1 run to stretch their advantage to 20 points (72-52) with 3:20 to go. The Sun Devils came no closer than 16 points for the remainder of the contest.

Scoring 14 crucial points during the first half, Wheeler finished with a game-high-tying 23 points on spectacular 9-for-14 shooting, adding four assists and four steals. Polk tied Wheeler for the game high, also with 23 points, and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for her third straight double-double and her fifth on the season.

Danielle Adefeso tied her career high with 14 points, and Aimee Grzyb added nine points while reaching the 1,000-point career scoring mark early in the first half. Natalie Jones contributed seven rebounds and four assists as the Cats won their 21st in a row in McKale Center.

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 230-143 (.617) mark at Arizona and is 555-214 (.722) in 23 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 125-100 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 101-52 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Arizona returns home next weekend to entertain the Bay Area schools. The Wildcats will take on Stanford on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., then they will face California on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.

The following week will see the Cats hit the road again, this time heading for Los Angeles. Arizona will play at UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. PST, then the Wildcats will play at USC on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 12 p.m. PST. That contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- at Oregon State (Jan. 24): Holding the Beavers to just one field goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Wildcats logged a 65-54 win at Oregon State on Jan. 24.

Arizona got off to what seemed a good start, scoring four quick points early in the game. Then OSU went on an 11-4 run to take a three-point (11-8) edge at 14:14 in the first. The Wildcats held a tenuous one-point (17-16) edge at 11:10 when the Beavers used a 15-7 run to jump out to a seven-point (31-24) advantage with just over two minutes left in the period. OSU held the 35-31 lead at the break.

The Cats opened the second half with a 14-5 run that gave them a five-point (45-40) lead with 14:18 to go. Five minutes later, Arizona stretched that advantage to 11 points (52-41), and the Beavers never came closer than eight points for the remainder of the game. The Wildcats scored their final field goal with 4:55 to play, but they hit 7-for-8 from the free throw line down the stretch to pull out their first win in Corvallis since 2000.

Shawntinice Polk led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the Cats out-rebounded the Beavers, 50-27, for the contest. Aimee Grzyb added 13 points, all in the first half, while Dee-Dee Wheeler had 12 points, all in the second half.

Shannon Hobson contributed 10 points and a season-best eight rebounds, and Natalie Jones pulled down eight rebounds to go with seven points.

At Oregon (Jan. 22): Natalie Jones drained four crucial free throws in the final 16 seconds to ice the win for the Wildcats at Oregon, 70-66, on Jan. 22.

Arizona opened the game with a 15-8 run over the first seven-plus minutes, but the Ducks used their own 15-9 spurt to get to within one (24-23) at 7:09. Three minutes later, the Cats pushed back out to a 31-25 advantage and led, 38-30, at halftime.

The Wildcats quickly made the spread 10 points after the break, but Shawntinice Polk picked up her fourth foul of the game just 63 seconds into the second half. At 18:15, Arizona held a 13-point (44-31) lead, its largest of the game, and then the Cats went into a tailspin.

Oregon reeled off an 18-2 run to gain a three-point (49-46) edge with 12:07 to play. Over the next three minutes, the two teams traded buckets, then the Ducks gained the upper hand and went up by six points (64-58) with 5:04 left.

That would prove to be Oregon's final field goal of the game, as Arizona used its press to turn up the heat on the Ducks. At the other end, the Cats scored seven unanswered points to slip ahead by one (66-65) with 43 seconds remaining.

Jones went to the line four times in the waning seconds and cooly drained all four charity shots, as the Cats hung on for their fourth straight win over the Ducks.

Dee-Dee Wheeler shot a blazing 9-for-13 from the floor, finishing with a game-high 22 points that included 13 in the first half alone. CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for nine points, while Jones, Aimee Grzyb and Danielle Adefeso each pitched in eight points. Polk led the Cats with eight rebounds but was held to just seven points, her fourth single-digit scoring performance of the season.

CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.4 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 74.4 percent from the free throw line, including a solid 77.1 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 19.8 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 32.3 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 40.4 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 2.0 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.6 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. Dee-Dee Wheeler is leading the conference with 3.33 steals per game in Pac-10 play.

STEPPING UP: Earning her first two starting nods as a collegian last weekend, freshman forward Shannon Hobson seems finally to be coming into her own. Over the last four games, Hobson has averaged 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, up from averages of just 2.9 ppg and 1.4 rpg over the first 16 games of the season. She tallied a season-high eight rebounds at Oregon State on Jan. 24 and has scored a season-best 11 points twice this year.

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 10 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 10 contests, she has averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.2 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a blazing 51.0 percent (80-157) of her shots over the last 10 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in six of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in eight of the last 10 games.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.2 three-point field goals per game. The positive is that, although opponents are nailing that many treys, the Cats are still among the top teams in the Pac-10 in three-point field goal percentage defense. Opponents are shooting just 31.3 percent from beyond the arc and are averaging a whopping 19.7 attempts per game.

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 9.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game. She is also shooting 47.5 percent (29-61) from the floor and 81.6 percent (31-38) 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 129 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 18 swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147. Polkey will join the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots even before taking over as Arizona's career leader -- she needs just seven more blocks to tie for 10th on the conference career list (136).

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 14-3 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 31-8 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 16 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and has hit 52.1 percent (112-215) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' four losses, Wheeler averaged 16.5 ppg and shot a miserable 35.1 percent (27-77) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 16-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 0-4 when shooting worse... 12-0 when tied or leading at the half... 15-0 when giving up 69 points or less, but 1-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 12-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 14-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 11-1 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.

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 153-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 113-14 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. 8 and LSU is No. 15. USC was among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 8, and LSU is No. 15. USC, Arizona State and UC Santa Barbara all received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 390-435 (.473) all-time record, however it is 180-78 (.698) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 216-113 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have an 10-0 record at home, are 5-3 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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