TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team shot a season-high 57 percent from the field as it cruised to an 89-60 victory over Washington State 89-60 at McKale Center this evening. With the win, the Wildcats improve to 19-9 overall and 11-6 in Pac-10 play.
Arizona was 35-of-62 from the field and 9-of-17 (53 percent) from downtown on the game. Washington State made 39 percent of its shots, including 31 percent from three-point range and 88 percent from the free throw line. The Wildcats also out-rebounded the Cougars 34 to 30 and forced 27 Washington State turnovers.
“Early on, when we went back and forth, I was disappointed in our intensity,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “As we started to play harder, our defense picked up and we were able to pull away. I thought we took good shots. We needed a win like this after such a disappointing loss.”
“We are getting healthy,” she continued. “When we are healthy, we are a great team.”
Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler finished with a team-high 18 points, including four three-pointers, to go along with five assists and three steals. Junior Shawntinice Polk recorded her eighth double-double of the season, tallying 17 points and 12 rebounds to go along with five steals, three assists and two blocks. Junior Natalie Jones added 17 points and six assists.
After a slow start, Arizona outscored Washington State 15-5 to take a 19-12 lead. The Cougars answered with an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead. After both teams traded several baskets, the Wildcats went on a 16-4 run to take a 12-point lead and went into the locker room at halftime up by eight, 44-36.
Arizona shot 59 percent from the field, 56 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the free throw line on the field on the half. Washington State, meanwhile, connected on 41 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 85 percent from the charity stripe. Both teams pulled down 14 boards, but the Cougars committed 10 turnovers to the Wildcats’ six. Wheeler led Arizona with 10 points and four assists, followed by Polk with nine points and five rebounds.
After the Cougars scored the first basket of the second half, the Wildcats scored 11 straight points to take a 55-38 lead. Arizona built its lead to as many as 31 and went on to win by 29, 89-60. The Wildcats forced 17 Washington State turnovers, nabbed 10 steals and blocked four shots on the half.
Arizona closes out regular-season play with a 4 p.m. game against Washington this Saturday, Feb. 26, for Senior Day. “Saturday’s game against Washington is a big game for us,” Bonvicini said. “We will be playing for a No. 2 or 3 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament. The worst we can get is a third seed.”
In addition, former Wildcat softball player and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch will speak at halftime of the game as part of National Women in Sport Day. At 2 p.m., there will be an all-sport clinic for female youth (high school age and younger) conducted by Wildcat coaches and student-athletes. Cost for youth is $4 and includes admission to the game. Sports represented in the all-sport clinic include volleyball, soccer, basketball, track and field, strength and conditioning, cheerleading and athletic training.
At halftime, there will be a special ceremony will be presented by Senior Associate Athletics Director Rocky LaRose, Finch and Laura Penny of the Women’s Sport Foundation. In addition, the female youth who participated in the all-sport clinic earlier that afternoon will be recognized.
After the game, the Arizona student-athletes who conducted the all-sport clinic will be on hand to sign autographs.