March 7, 2004
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. - After the game, Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini glanced to her left to look at Shawntinice Polk, then gave the star sophomore center an appreciative smile.
Polk had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Arizona won its sixth straight game, 77-55 over Washington in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament Sunday.
"Oh, it's so nice to have someone like Polkie in the middle," Bonvicini said.
Second-seeded Arizona (24-7) has won five straight meetings against Washington, which played in the semifinals for the second straight year. The Wildcats held the cold-shooting Huskies scoreless for almost four minutes in the second half.
Arizona will play either top-seeded Stanford, ranked 12th in the country, or UCLA for the title Monday night. Polk certainly was rooting for the Cardinal.
When asked whether she wants another shot at Stanford, she said: "Yes! Definitely."
Senior Giuliana Mendiola led Washington (17-12) with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists and shot 10-for-15. Her sister, Gioconda, playing her second game following a suspension by coach June Daugherty for striking Arizona State's Kylan Loney in the face, was held to four points on 1-for-8 shooting.
Andrea Lalum added 13 for Washington, making 3 of 7 3-pointers.
Polk, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center and the Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, played a smart game and stayed out of foul trouble _ something that was a problem for her this season when she fouled out of seven games.
Polk also passed for two assists, including a controlled tap off a pass that went to Aimee Grzyb for a lay-in. Grzyb, who's from San Jose, left the game 37 seconds before halftime with a hurt left ankle after landing awkwardly following a pass, but returned in the second half and finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
"It's very tough for us to go out this way," Daugherty said. "We ran out of fuel a little bit. Arizona just keeps coming at you. They wore us down. I felt like there was a lid on the basket in the second half."
Washington shot 30.3 percent after halftime and 36.8 for the game.
"We were getting good shots all through the game, but in the second half they just didn't fall for us," Giuliana Mendiola said.
Natalie Jones added 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Arizona and Dee-Dee Wheeler had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The No. 6-seeded Huskies had won four of their last five games, with the one loss coming to Arizona.
The Wildcats beat Washington 71-54 in Seattle on Feb. 28 to end the regular season and 89-74 in Tucson to open conference play.
The Wildcats outmatched the Huskies inside, leading to many easy baskets in the paint. Washington used two defenders to collapse on Polk and keep the ball out of her hands, but it didn't work. Polk scored 12 of her points in the first half.
"We prefer to go inside, but we know we can hit the outside shot, too," Bonvicini said. "Everything was working for us tonight."
The Huskies had seven turnovers in the first eight minutes and Arizona began the game by making eight of 14 field goals to take a 19-10 lead.
Lalum's 3-pointer 7:55 before halftime pulled the Huskies within 22-20, but the Wildcats answered with a 7-0 run and led 37-30 at the break.