Feb. 5, 2004
By JOHN MOREDICH
TUCSON (AP)- No. 7 Stanford was never challenged the last time it played Arizona. The Wildcats were the team in control this time, though, with Shawntinice Polk scoring 21 points and getting a career-high 19 rebounds in an 88-83 upset on Thursday.
Arizona's victory matched the highest win over a ranked opponent in school history. The Wildcats knocked off seventh-ranked Washington, 93-62, on Jan. 10, 1998.
It was also the 24th straight home triumph, tying Utah and Western Illinois with the second- longest streak in the country.
"It is a really big win. We lost horrible up at Stanford," Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler said. "This showed a lot of heart and will to come out and beat a great team like Stanford."
Stanford struck early in an 84-62 victory on Jan. 10 in Palo Alto, taking a 17-2 lead before going into halftime with a 32-point cushion.
The Wildcats wanted redemption, and got it by making 17 of 18 free throws late in the second half. Arizona needed the charity tosses after losing a 13-point lead in the second half.
"I wouldn't say we were not ready to play. We just didn't come out and execute or play with fire," Stanford's Player of the Year candidate Nicole Powell said. "We just didn't bring it."
Polk made 9 of 15 field goal attempts for Arizona. Wheeler had 19 points, while Natalie Jones added 17.
Polk had a double-double by halftime, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 boards. She totaled only six points in the last game.
"They didn't put four people on me this time," Polk said about the difference between the games. "They double-teamed me quite a bit, but they didn't have four. I actually got to breathe. My teammates where shooting and driving, and that opened it up."
Powell, who scored all of her 22 points in the second half, led Stanford in scoring. The Cardinal (17-4, 10-2) also received 19 points from Kelley Suminski and 13 from Susan Borchardt. Wheeler hit a bank shot for a 77-70 lead with 1:16 left, but Powell lined up for a three-pointer to close to within four.
Wheeler responded with three straight free throws, and Aimee Grzyb made two charity tosses to regain a seven point lead Arizona (17-5, 9-2) would not relinquish.
"I'm proud of these kids. They wanted this bad," Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said.
Jones hit a deep baseline three-pointer and then two free throws for a 71-64 Arizona lead. Suminski narrowed the gap to 73-70 with 2:18 remaining. Stanford kept coming back before finally giving in with the Wildcats hitting clutch free throws down the stretch.
Arizona finished the game making 27 of 36 free throws, but the Cats were 20 of 24 in the second half.
"I think we want it more when the game is on the line," Wheeler said. "We are relaxed more (even though) we know the free throws can mean a win or loss for us."
After Powell made two free throws to narrow Arizona's gap to 43-38, the Wildcats scored six straight points with Polk hitting inside, and then Shannon Hobson and Wheeler connected on jumpers for a 51-38 lead with 14:37 left.
With her team trailing by 13, Powell began asserting herself. The All-American candidate connected on a three-pointer, hit the boards, had a length-of-the-court driving lay-in, and then tied the game at 58-58 with 9:37 left on another three.
"I was disappointed in the way I played," Powell said. "I don't feel like I played up to par."
Arizona broke out fast in the opening moments of the second half, going on a 9-2 spurt to take at 43-34 edge. A Jones three-pointer and a pair of buckets by Grzyb sparked the outburst.
The Cardinal led 19-17 with 8:58 remaining in the half, but the Wildcats went on a 13-3 run to take a 30-22 lead. Polk scored six points in the span despite playing with two early fouls.