TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The Arizona women’s basketball team extended its nation’s-best home winning streak to 34 with its seventh home victory of the season, an 80-69 win over California at McKale Center tonight. With the win, the Wildcats improve to 11-3 overall and 3-1 in Pac-10 play.
Arizona shot 52 percent from the field, 13 percent from three-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line on the game. Meanwhile, Cal, one of the nation’s top three-point shooting teams, was limited to just 3-of-11 (27 percent) from downtown. The Bears made 46 percent of their shots from the field and 64 percent from the charity stripe. The Wildcats also out-rebounded Cal 33 to 31 and forced 23 Bear turnovers.
“We definitely scored a lot from the front line," Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. "It was nice to get points from other players. It was a little closer than I wanted. I was just happy to see us knock down our free throws. This was a gut check game for us. It was a must win.”
“Our defense was not good in the second half down the stretch," she continued. "We were better in the first half. We let them get easy shots down the stretch. They are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, and we held them to 27 percent. That’s not bad.”
Senior Dee-Dee Wheeler led Arizona with 19 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds. Sophomore Shannon Hobson added 11 points on 4-for-4 from the field. It was her first double-digit scoring performance since Nov. 27 at Brigham Young.
Junior All-America candidate Shawntinice Polk, playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury Dec. 27 at Washington, finished with 10 points on 5-of-6 from the field in just 11 minutes. “Polkey had limited minutes tonight," Bonvicini said. "It’s a confidence boost when she comes in the game. She changes things. She is a big target down there.”
Freshman Ashley Whisonant and senior Katrina Lindner tallied nine points apiece, while senior Danielle Adefeso finished with eight points. Junior Natalie Jones led the Wildcats with seven rebounds.
After trailing early, the Wildcats used a 5-0 lead to take a 6-5 lead and led for the remainder of the game. Arizona led by as many as 13 (27-14), but Cal used a 7-0 run to make it a six-point game. The Wildcats closed out the half on a 7-1 run to go into the locker room with a 34-22 lead.
Arizona shot 42 percent from the field, 25 percent from three-point range and 56 percent from the free throw line on the half, compared to the 32, 23 and 33 percent, respectively, of the Bears. The Wildcats out-rebounded Cal 24 to 17 and forced 10 Bear turnovers. Wheeler led all players with nine points. Adefeso and Jones pulled down four boards each to pace the Wildcats.
Arizona maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half. Cal used a 5-0 run to cut it to seven, but the Wildcats scored five straight to extend the lead back to 13 (53-40). Later, after a 7-0 run, Arizona built its lead to 16 (64-48). The Bears cut away at the Wildcat lead, but Arizona hit its free throws down the stretch to maintain its lead and secure the victory.
Arizona hosts No. 8 Stanford for a 2:30 p.m. game this Sunday, Jan. 9. The game will be televised live to a national audience on FSN. “Stanford is much different this year than they have been in the past," Bonvicini said. "They have three different key players from last year. They have players that can shoot the ball and be physical. Their style is different than previously.”