March 8, 2003
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif.- Arizona expected Oregon State to concentrate its attention on 6-foot-5 freshman of the year Shawntinice Polk, and the Wildcats hoped someone else could produce.
Krista Warren was the one, and she got plenty of help from Polk, too.
Warren scored 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting and Polk added 15 points and 13 rebounds as the No. 22 Wildcats defeated the Beavers 70-56 in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament Saturday.
"Polk did a good job, but it was hard for us to stop Warren," Oregon State coach Judy Spoelstra said. "She made a big difference for them."
Jessica Jones and Michelle Smith had 12 points each for the sixth-seeded Beavers.
Polk also had four steals, three assists and a blocked shot for the No. 3 seed Wildcats, who shot 44 percent after making 52 percent of their shots in the first half. Arizona led the Pac-10 in field-goal percentage this season at 48.1.
The Wildcats (21-7) have won five straight games for the first time in two years, and their victory Saturday sets up a meeting with No. 25 Washington on Sunday in the semifinals. The Wildcats beat the Huskies 79-66 on Feb. 6, but lost 60-59 in Seattle on Jan. 11.
Arizona tied for second in the Pac-10 with Washington, but the Huskies edged the Wildcats for the tournament's No. 2 seed in a tiebreaker. Since they split the season series, the tiebreaker went to conference record and they had identical records against all the other teams. The next tiebreaker is overall Division I winning percentage, which gave the advantage to Washington (21-6, .778) over Arizona (20-7, .741).
The Wildcats were looking forward to another shot at the Huskies, who beat Southern California 64-63 in Saturday's first game. Washington has Pac-10 player of the year Giuliana Mendiola.
"Mendiola plays great defense, goes to the boards hard and can take the ball away from you," said Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler, who added 14 points and four assists. "That's why she's the player of the year."
Oregon State (14-14) pulled to 49-41 on a layin by Kristina Rukstelyte with 10:13 remaining, but Arizona's defense held the Beavers without another field goal for nearly five minutes.
The Wildcats also took care of the ball down the stretch, controlling many of the loose balls and patiently moving the ball around to get open shots. They pulled down several offensive rebounds in the final minutes that allowed them to take time off the clock.
Both teams shot over 52 percent in the first half, but Arizona was 7-for-11 from free-throw line while Oregon State was just 3-for-5.
The first time these teams played this season, Oregon State trailed by 38 points with eight minutes left in the game and lost 72-44. The Beavers took the second meeting 71-65 in overtime Jan. 30, and had won four of the last five meetings.
The Beavers led 10-5 before Arizona went on a 12-2 run to go ahead 17-12. The Wildcats broke a 21-all tie and scored eight straight points on the way to a 36-26 halftime lead.