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Wildcat Women Take on USC and UCLA This Week
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/13/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 13, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Gaining a brief respite from the road, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (12-4 overall; 4-1 Pac-10) returns home this weekend to play host to the L.A. schools. The Wildcats will face USC on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $6 for general admission, and $4 for senior citizens, youth (high school and under), UA faculty and staff, and UA students. UA students with a Zona Zoo Pass can gain free admission.

Saturday, Jan. 17, is "Pack the House Day" as the Wildcats take on UCLA at 4 p.m. All tickets are $3 each, although UA students possessing a Zona Zoo Pass can get in for free. The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: After a rough weekend in the Bay Area, the Wildcats are 12-4 overall and 4-1 in Pac-10 play. Arizona managed to slip past a much-improved California team, 70-68, on Jan. 8, but the Cats were handed an 84-62 loss at No. 7 Stanford on Jan. 10. After having a school-record-tying 10-game win streak snapped, the Wildcats have lost two of their last three games.

The Wildcats have won 21 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the fifth-longest active home winning streak in the nation.

The Cats' loss last weekend cost them a multitude of votes in both polls. After earning 22 votes last week, Arizona received just seven votes in the Associated Press Top 25 this week. The Cats also dropped from 52 votes to 28 votes this week in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler has taken over as the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.5 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 5.1 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.0 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.4 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.5 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 7.8 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.6 per game.

ARIZONA POSSIBLE STARTERS:
#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, So., Hanford, Calif.)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles, 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.)
#50 - Shannon Hobson (F/C, 6-2, Fr., Perris, Calif.)
#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.)

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 21: With their win over Arizona State on Jan. 2, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 21 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Jan. 11, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (73.4 ppg), is second in scoring margin (+9.5 ppg), third in field goal percentage (.457), third in field goal percentage defense (.403), third in rebounding defense (33.0 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+5.8 rpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.88 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.63 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.4 rpg) and second in field goal percentage (.550). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.5 ppg), third in assists (5.06 apg), ninth in field goal percentage (.469) and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.47).

Natalie Jones is fourth in free throw percentage (.791), ninth in assists (3.19 apg) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27). Aimee Grzyb is seventh in three-pointers made per game (1.69 pg) and 17th in scoring (10.5 ppg), while Danielle Adefeso is 16th in rebounding (5.6 rpg).

SCOUTING USC: After opening the season with a 3-5 mark, USC has won four of its last five to improve to 7-6 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-10. The Women of Troy are coming off a sweep of Washington (70-50) and Washington State (82-52) at home last weekend. USC is not ranked but did receive two votes in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll.

Averaging 15.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, senior post Ebony Hoffman is leading USC in both categories. Senior guard Rometra Craig is second in scoring, at 11.1 ppg, followed by senior guard Jessica Cheeks with 8.9 ppg. Sophomore guard Meghan Gnekow is the team's second-leading rebounder, grabbing 5.6 per game.

Head coach Chris Gobrecht (USC, 1977) has a 85-101 record in her seventh season at the helm of her alma mater's program. She is 417-304 in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. USC: The Women of Troy have a solid 36-14 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Wildcats have won 12 of the last 16 meetings with USC. Last season, the Cats swept USC for the first time since 1999, winning at home (79-76) on Feb. 16, then taking the game in L.A. (78-64) on Mar. 16.

Arizona is 8-16 all-time when playing USC at home. The Wildcats last lost to USC at home, 71-64, on Feb. 16, 2002.

LAST MEETING WITH USC: Then-24th-ranked Arizona rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat USC, 78-64, in Los Angeles on Feb. 16, 2003.

The Wildcats began the game with a strong start, gaining a 24-8 advantage over the first nine minutes of the contest. However, things went downhill from there, as Arizona committed eight turnovers and shot just 3-for-10 over the next 11 minutes. The Cats didn't hit a field goal in the final 3:53 of the half but were still up, 34-29, at the break.

Forced to begin the second half without star Shawntinice Polk, who went down with a sprained ankle with 23 seconds left in the first stanza, the Wildcats were completely out of sync at the start of the second. USC dominated the Cats and opened the period with a 20-4 run that gave the Women of Troy an 11-point (49-38) lead at 12:28.

That's when Polk came out of the Wildcat locker room and re-joined her teammates. She was back on the floor at 12:06, and from that point, the Cats went on an 11-1 run that got them back to within one point (50-49) with 10:36 to play.

USC pushed the lead to five (54-49) a minute later, but that was the last time they would have control of the contest, as Arizona out-scored the Women of Troy, 29-10, over the final nine minutes to pull out the victory.

Scoring 19 of her points in the second half, Dee-Dee Wheeler led Arizona with 23 points, five rebounds and four steals. Julie Brase shot a blazing 7-for-10 from the floor, including 4-for-6 from three-point range, on her way to a season-high 20 points.

Polk added 14 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals. At 14:24 in the first half, Polk blocked a USC shot and broke Arizona's single-season blocks record, a mark that was set in 1982.

SCOUTING UCLA: On a three-game winning streak, UCLA is 8-6 overall and 3-2 in Pac-10 action following wins over Washington State (78-58) and Washington (65-60) at home last weekend. The Bruins will play at Arizona State on Thursday before heading to Tucson for Saturday's game.

Three UCLA players are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by sophomore guard Nikki Blue's 14.5 points per game. Freshman Noelle Quinn and sophomore Lisa Willis are tied for second in scoring, each averaging 12.1 ppg. Quinn is the team's top rebounder, at 6.7 per game, followed by Blue with 6.0 rpg.

In her 11th season at UCLA, head coach Kathy Olivier (UNLV, 1983) has a 156-145 mark.

THE SERIES vs. UCLA: The Bruins also have a comfortable 35-15 lead in the series with Arizona, but the Cats have claimed four of the last five meetings with UCLA. Last year, Arizona defeated the Bruins, 80-61, in Tucson on Jan. 18, but UCLA returned the favor by slipping past the Cats, 48-47, on Feb. 14 in Pauley.

The Wildcats have a 9-16 all-time record when playing UCLA in Tucson. Arizona hasn't lost to UCLA at home since a 79-68 defeat by the Bruins on Feb. 20, 2000.

LAST MEETING WITH UCLA: Held to its lowest offensive output in four years, then-No. 24 Arizona was edged at UCLA, 48-47, on Feb. 14, 2003.

The game started off slow for both teams, but Arizona managed an 11-4 edge in the first seven minutes. Over the next 13 minutes, however, the Wildcats shot just 1-for-10 from the field, scored only seven points and committed eight turnovers. UCLA took advantage of the Cats' miscues and used a 19-7 spurt to gain a 23-18 lead at halftime.

The start of the second half seemed good for the Cats, as they began the period with a 15-4 run that put them up by six (33-27) with 14:13 to play. Arizona still held on to a five-point (43-38) edge with 9:10 to go, then the Cats fell into the same kind of slump they suffered in the first half. Over the final nine minutes of the game, Arizona shot just 2-for-10 from the floor.

The Cats did have a two-point (47-45) lead with 3:07 to play, but they gave up a bucket at 1:58, allowing UCLA to tie the game. Then Dee-Dee Wheeler fouled Bruin Gennifer Arranaga at 1:07, and Arranaga hit the second of her two free throw attempts, scoring what proved to be the game-winning point. Arizona had the ball with 11 seconds remaining, but a trey by Wheeler clanged off the rim, as the Cats shot a miserable 3-for-20 from three-point range in the game.

Wheeler finished with a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the second half alone, and logged four rebounds and a trio of steals. Shawntinice Polk was the only other Wildcat to reach double figures in scoring, registering her 17th double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Krista Warren added 10 rebounds and four steals.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 30 of their last 37 home games and are 106-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 137-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 203-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

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 226-143 (.612) mark at Arizona and is 551-214 (.720) 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 121-100 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 97-52 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Cats will hit the road again for three straight games. Arizona will play at Oregon on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. PST, then the Wildcats will take on Oregon State in Corvallis on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. PST. The Cats will wrap up the road swing at Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m.

Arizona returns home during the first weekend in February to face Stanford (Feb. 5) and California (Feb. 7).

RECAPPING LAST WEEK'S ACTION -- At #7 Stanford (Jan. 10): Allowing the Cardinal to drain 15 three-pointers for the game, the Wildcats suffered an 84-62 loss at No. 7 Stanford on Jan. 10.

Wildcat Shawntinice Polk tweaked her knee on the very first shot of the game, just 28 seconds into the contest, and that seemed to send Arizona into an immediate tailspin. Stanford ripped off nine straight points before the Cats ever scored, then the Cardinal pushed out to a 17-2 lead by 12:41.

Although Polk returned to action with only five minutes off the clock, the Cats never did regain their composure. By 6:35, Stanford gained a 34-7 advantage and finished the half with a 44-12 lead a the break. That was the largest halftime deficit ever for a Bonvicini team at Arizona, and the 12 points were the fewest scored in one half since 1978.

The start of the second half wasn't much better, as the Cardinal drained back-to-back treys to open the period and stretch their lead to 38 points (50-12). At 15:37, Stanford went ahead by 42 points (58-16), and by 12:18, the Cardinal had their largest lead of the game at 47 points (69-22).

The Wildcats finally started producing on offense, and they used a 33-10 run over the next 10 minutes to get back to within 24 points (79-55), the closest they had been since early in the game. The final deficit of 22 points was Arizona's worst loss to the Cardinal since falling by 24 points (81-57) on Dec. 19, 2001.

Dee-Dee Wheeler led all scorers with 19 points, including 13 in the second half alone. Freshman Shannon Hobson came off the bench for 11 points, while Natalie Jones contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Polk grabbed a team-best eight rebounds but was held to just six points, missing the double-digit mark in back-to-back games for the first time in her career.

At California (Jan. 8): Dee-Dee Wheeler scored the game-winning bucket with five seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 70-68 win at California on Jan. 8.

Missing their first four shots and turning the ball over twice in the first three minutes, the Cats allowed California to run up an 8-0 lead early in the game. An 8-5 Arizona spurt tied the score at 13-13 with 12:34 to go in the first. Over the next 11 minutes, the Cats stayed in the game but could never gain a lead. Down six (32-26) with 1:22 left in the half, Wildcat Aimee Grzyb scored five straight points to make the score 32-31 in favor of Cal at halftime.

Arizona opened the second half with 15-5 run to gain a nine-point (46-37) lead at 15:11, but a 22-8 spurt by Cal gave the Bears a five-point (59-54) advantage with 6:01 to go. One minute later, the Cats tied the game at 59-59.

Over the next four minutes, neither team was able to gain any kind of control of the game, then Dee-Dee Wheeler drained her second trey of the contest, and Natalie Jones knocked down a pair of free throws to put Arizona back up by five (68-63) with 53 seconds remaining. Cal scored quickly on its next possession, but during the ensuing in-bounds play, a sloppy pass by Wheeler resulted in a Cal three-pointer, and the Bears tied the game at 68-68 with 25 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats then ran a play to get the ball into Wheeler's hands, and she atoned for her earlier miscue by connecting on a left-handed lay-up with only five seconds on the clock. With just two seconds remaining, the Cats were whistled for a foul, but Cal's Nihan Anaz missed the front end of a one-and-one, which Wheeler promptly rebounded and assured her team of its 17th straight win over the Bears.

Wheeler finished with a game-high-tying 24 points, her third straight performance of 20 points or better, and snagged a season-high five steals. Grzyb shot 8-for-14 from the floor on her way to a career-high-tying 19 points, while Jones added 12 points. Shawntinice Polk pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds but was held to only nine points. She did rack up a career-high-tying and a game-high six assists.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: The Cats are averaging nearly 10 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 31.9 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 41.5 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 1.6 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.9 ppg in the second half of play.

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 six games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last six contests, she has averaged 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a blazing 51.0 percent (53-104) of her shots over the last six games, including three contests where she shot 61 percent or better from the floor.

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 the 99 treys the Cats have allowed opponents to hit so far this season is still a lower number than this time a year ago. Through the first 16 games of last season, Arizona opponents had drained 107 three-pointers.

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 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She is also shooting a hot 51.4 percent (19-37) 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.

STUFF THIS: With 122 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk is already in second place on the UA career list in that category. She could become Arizona's all-time blocked shots leader before this season is over, as she needs just 25 swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147. Polkey could join the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots even before taking over as Arizona's career leader -- she needs just 14 more swats 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 12-3 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 29-8 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 12 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and has hit 52.5 percent (85-162) 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... 12-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 0-4 when shooting worse... 10-0 when tied or leading at the half, but 2-4 when trailing at halftime... 11-0 when giving up 69 points or less, but 1-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 9-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 11-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 9-1 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: Seven of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either nationally ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 7 and LSU is No. 14. Oregon and UC Santa Barbara were among the teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 7, and LSU is No. 14. UC Santa Barbara, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State and USC were all among teams that received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 386-435 (.470) all-time record, however it is 176-78 (.693) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 212-113 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have an 8-0 record at home, are 3-3 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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