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Arizona Ends Regular Season at Washington, Seeks First Pac-10 Title
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/27/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 27, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Ending a three-game road losing skid with a victory at Washington State on Thursday night, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (21-7, 13-4 Pac-10) now finds itself in a position to claim at least a portion of the Pac-10 regular-season title. Arizona will wrap up conference action on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Washington in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net at 1 p.m. PST. A win over the Huskies would make the Wildcats at least co-Pac-10 champions, the program's first-ever conference title.

TWO CAREER PERFORMANCES TO WATCH: With 993 points through the first 59 games of her career, Shawntinice Polk is just seven points from becoming the fastest Wildcat and the first UA sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point mark. Polk should reach that mark during Saturday's game at Washington, which would be a total of 60 career contests.

Former Cat and all-time leading scorer Adia Barnes (1995-98) currently has the distinction of being fastest to score 1,000, reaching that mark in 61 games, the first contest of her junior season. Dee-Dee Wheeler is currently the second-fastest, gaining that mark in just 70 career games.

Senior guard Aimee Grzyb needs to play just 13 minutes against the Huskies to become Arizona's new career leader in minutes played. She stands in second place with 3688 minutes played. The current career leader is Regina Grennan (1987-90), who saw 3700 minutes during her time at Arizona.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: With a close 77-72 win at Washington State on Thursday, the Wildcats improved to 21-7 overall and 13-4 in Pac-10 play. That win, plus Stanford's loss at Oregon, puts Arizona in a tie for first place with the Cardinal. Arizona State and USC are tied for third, each standing at 11-6.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains Arizona's top scorer, averaging 17.8 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 4.8 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.3 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 10.1 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.4 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 9.0 ppg. Jones and junior center Danielle Adefeso are tied for second on the team in rebounding, each averaging 4.4 per game.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 26, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (73.2 ppg), is first in field goal percentage (.465), second in scoring margin (+8.6 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.402), second in rebounding defense (33.3 rpg), second in blocked shots (4.00 bpg) and third in rebounding margin (+5.1 rpg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.64 bpg), is second in rebounding (10.1 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.568) and fourth in scoring (16.2 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.8 ppg), third in steals (2.82 spg), fourth in assists (4.79 apg), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.25), sixth in field goal percentage (.486) and 10th in three-point percentage (.364).

Natalie Jones is fifth in free throw percentage (.775) and 10th in steals (1.71 spg), while Aimee Grzyb is fifth in three-pointers made per game (1.64 pg) and 16th in scoring (10.4 ppg).

SCOUTING WASHINGTON: On a three-game winning streak, the Huskies improved to 16-10 overall and 9-8 in Pac-10 action with a 63-55 win over Arizona State at home on Thursday.

With an average of 20.7 points per game, senior guard Giuliana Mendiola leads Washington and the Pac-10 in scoring. She is UW's second-leading rebounder, grabbing 6.0 per game. Fellow senior Andrea Lalum is second in scoring with an average of 15.7 ppg, while freshman forward Jill Bell is Washington's top rebounder, at 6.5 per contest.

In her eighth year at Washington, head coach June Daugherty (Ohio State, 1978) has a 138-96 record. She has a career mark of 261-170 in 15 seasons.

THE SERIES vs. WASHINGTON: The Huskies have a solid 25-12 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Wildcats have won eight of the last 11 meetings and the last three in a row. Earlier this season, the Cats handed Washington an 89-74 loss in Tucson on Dec. 27 at the start of Pac-10 play.

Arizona is 1-16 all-time when playing in Seattle, but the Cats have never won a game in Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The program's lone victory in Seattle came on Jan. 15, 2000, a contest that was played at Mercer Arena during the renovation of HecEd. Arizona won that game, 96-85.

LAST MEETING WITH WASHINGTON: Featuring a well-balanced offense, the Wildcats logged a big 89-74 win over Washington at home to open Pac-10 play on Dec. 27.

The Huskies scrapped to an 8-4 lead at 17:24, which Arizona promptly tied at 8-8 just one minute later. The two teams traded buckets for the next five minutes, until the Wildcats scored 10 unanswered points to go ahead, 28-18, with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half. The closest Washington came for the remainder of the period was eight points, as Arizona finished the half on a 13-4 run to take a 46-29 lead into halftime.

The Wildcats began the second half with a 5-0 spurt to stretch their lead to 22 points (51-29) at 18:38. Four minutes later, the Huskies cut the lead to 16 (55-39), but the Cats used an 18-7 run to go back up by 27 points (73-46), their largest lead of the game, at 9:13.

Over the next five minutes, Arizona allowed Washington to hit five 3-pointers, as the Huskies mounted a comeback attempt and cut the lead to 14 points (80-66) with 4:08 to play. After an Arizona timeout, the Cats rebounded a missed Husky shot and converted it into an Aimee Grzyb three-pointer to stop Washington's momentum. The Wildcats out-scored the Huskies, 9-8, down the stretch to extend their win streak over UW in Tucson to nine games.

Five Wildcats reached double digits in scoring, led by Shawntinice Polk's 19 points and game-high 15 rebounds, her third double-double of the year. Dee-Dee Wheeler finished with 19 points and six assists, while Aimee Grzyb and Natalie Jones added 17 points apiece. CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for 11 points, all in the first half, and grabbed six rebounds. RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- at Washington State (Feb. 26): A 15-point second half from Dee-Dee Wheeler provided the Wildcats with the edge they needed to slip past Washington State, 77-72, on Feb. 26 in Pullman.

The Cats opened the game with a 16-7 run through the first seven minutes, only to see Washington State put on its own 20-6 spurt to gain a five-point (27-22) advantage with just over eight minutes left in the first. A 9-2 run gave the Cats a brief two-point (31-29) lead at 4:14. WSU out-scored Arizona, 9-8, over the remainder of the period, but the Wildcats still held onto a 39-38 lead at the break.

Arizona began the second half with a 9-3 spurt over the first five minutes to go ahead by seven points (48-41), and five minutes later, the Cats had stretched their advantage to 10 points (59-49). The Wildcats still held a double-digit lead with 5:52 remaining, then the Cougars began chipping away at the spread.

WSU went on an 11-5 run that included a three-pointer with 19 seconds left that chopped the Cats' lead to just five points (75-70). The Cougars began fouling to stop the clock, and although the Cats made just two of their four late free throw attempts, they made WSU miss the only shot it got off in the waning seconds of the game.

After being held to just five points in the first half, Wheeler drained a trio of three-pointers late in the contest and finished with a team-high 20 points. She also added five assists and four steals. Shawntinice Polk ripped off 15 first-half points on her way to 19 for the game, along with a team-high 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots. Aimee Grzyb added 12 points and four assists, while CoCoa Sanford came off the bench for 10 points.

STUFF THIS: Just a sophomore, Shawntinice Polk is already Arizona's career leader in blocked shots, now with 154. Against Oregon on Feb. 21, she passed former Wildcat Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), who tallied 147 blocks in her career.

Polkey has also moved into the No. 9 spot on the Pac-10 career blocked shots chart. She needs just eight more swats to move up to No. 8, a spot currently occupied by USC's Michelle Campbell (1994-97), with 162.

CRASHING THE BOARDS: With her total of 195 rebounds in Pac-10 play, Shawntinice Polk has set a new school record for the most rebounds in conference action. She surpassed her own mark of 176 set last season. If Polk maintains her current rebounding average of 11.5 in league play, that will be a new school record as well.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.4 three-point field goals per game this season. While the Cats limited nonconference opponents to just 28.3 percent (54-191) shooting from beyond the arc, they have allowed Pac-10 teams to make 38.1 percent (126-331) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.

With one game left in regular-season conference action, the Wildcats have already set a new school record by allowing opponents to hit 126 three-pointers in Pac-10 play. The previous record was 106, set by the 2001-02 team.

STICKY FINGERS: Dee-Dee Wheeler has amassed a career-best season total of 79 steals this year, the highest number of steals for any Wildcat since Reshea Bristol set the school record at 96 thefts during the 2000-01 season. Wheeler's 79 currently ranks fourth on the UA's single-season top 10 list in that category.

In Pac-10 play, Wheeler has set a new school record with 58 steals against conference opponents. The previous record was 57, set by Keisha Anderson during Pac-10 play in 1992-93.

STARTING SUITS HER: Freshman forward Shannon Hobson seems finally to be coming into her own. Since entering the starting lineup for the Cats 10 games ago, Hobson has averaged 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and has made 51.9 percent (27-52) of her shot attempts. She has also played a total of 202 minutes in the last 10 games, which is more than she had played in the previous 18 games combined (186). Hobson averaged just 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game when coming off the bench.

BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 10.8 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action.

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 18 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 18 contests, she has averaged 19.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.3 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 51.1 percent (138-270) of her shots over the last 18 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in 10 of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 13 of the last 18 games.

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 18.7 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.

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 10.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She is also shooting a solid 42.4 percent (56-132) from the floor 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.

DON'T LIKE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE: The Wildcats have had a rough time in road games this season, especially since the start of Pac-10 play. Arizona is just 4-4 on the road in conference action and has lost three of its last four Pac-10 road contests.

Struggling on the road has become a disturbing trend for the Arizona program over the last few seasons. Since the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats are just 22-28 when playing on the road, including a paltry 14-21 mark in Pac-10 road games. The last time the Cats had a decent road record was in 1999-2000, when they were 9-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 away games.

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 15-6 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 35-11 when she scores 15 points or more.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 20-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 17-1 when tied or leading at the half... 18-2 when giving up 69 points or less, but 3-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 17-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 19-3 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 16-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 75 games by margins of 20 points or more. Seven of those blowouts have happened this season alone.

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 155-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 115-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 395-438 (.474) all-time record, however it is 185-81 (.695) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 221-116 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 14-0 record at home, are 6-6 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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