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Arizona Ends Regular Season on the Road in Washington
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/24/2004
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 24, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: Garnering its fourth 20-win season in the last five years, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (20-7, 12-4 Pac-10) will be looking to end a three-game road losing skid this weekend when it closes regular-season play the Washington schools. The Wildcats will play at Washington State on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. PST. 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.

TWO CAREER PERFORMANCES TO WATCH: Senior guard Aimee Grzyb needs to play just a combined total of 47 minutes in this weekend's games to become Arizona's new career leader in minutes played. She stands in second place with 3654 minutes played. The current career leader is Regina Grennan (1987-90), who saw 3700 minutes during her time at Arizona.

With 974 points through the first 58 games of her career, Shawntinice Polk is on pace to be the fastest Wildcat and the first UA sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point mark. Polk could 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.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: After ending their home slate with a perfect 14-0 record for the first time in school history, the Wildcats are 20-7 overall and 12-4 in Pac-10 play. The Cats swept Oregon State (77-54) and Oregon (84-58) last weekend to gain sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 standings. Stanford is currently in first place with a 13-3 league record, while Arizona State is third with an 11-5 conference mark. USC (11-6) has slipped to fourth.

The Wildcats have won 27 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 32 games before a Feb. 25 meeting with Baylor. Louisiana Tech, Utah and Western Illinois are close behind the Cats, each sporting a 26-game streak.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains Arizona's top scorer, averaging 17.7 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 16.1 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.9 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.4 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 9.1 ppg. Jones and junior center Danielle Adefeso are tied for second on the team in rebounding, each averaging 4.4 per game.

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

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 27: With their win over Oregon State on Feb. 21, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 27 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000. The Wildcats haven't lost a home game since suffering a close 78-71 overtime defeat by LSU on Nov. 22, 2002. Arizona has also won 19 straight Pac-10 games at home, with their last home conference loss coming to USC (71-64) on Feb. 16, 2002.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 36 of their last 43 home games and are 112-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 143-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 209-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Pac-10 teams have a combined 96-35 record at home this season. The top five teams in the standings have a combined 62-8 home mark for the year, including a whopping 41-4 record in home conference games. Only Stanford and Arizona went undefeated in home Pac-10 games this year, each going 9-0, and Arizona is the only conference team to remain undefeated at home for the entire season, with a perfect 14-0 mark.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 21, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in scoring (73.1 ppg), is first in field goal percentage (.465), second in scoring margin (+8.8 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.401), second in rebounding defense (33.0 rpg), second in rebounding margin (+5.1 rpg), second in blocked shots (3.89 bpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.63 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.52 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.9 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.567) and fourth in scoring (16.1 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.7 ppg), third in steals (2.78 spg), fourth in assists (4.78 apg), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24), sixth in field goal percentage (.485) and 10th in three-point percentage (.357).

Natalie Jones is third in free throw percentage (.788), 10th in assists (2.93 apg) and 10th in steals (1.74 spg), while Aimee Grzyb is seventh in three-pointers made per game (1.59 pg) and 16th in scoring (10.4 ppg).

ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATS: As of Feb. 23, Arizona is 16th in the nation in field goal percentage (.465) and 31st in scoring (73.1 ppg). Shawntinice Polk is 16th in blocked shots (2.5 bpg), 22nd in field goal percentage (.567) and 32nd in rebounding (9.9 rpg).

SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: With just one win in their last 19 games, the Cougars are on a six-game losing skid and stand at 5-20 overall and 1-15 in Pac-10 play. WSU's lone conference win of the season was a 64-59 victory at California on Jan. 29. Washington State lost to rival Washington, 82-64, at home last weekend in the Cougars' only game of the week.

Averaging 12.0 points per game, senior forward Bianca McCall leads Washington State in scoring, and she is second in rebounding, at 5.5 per game. Freshman forward Kate Benz is the team's top rebounder, averaging 6.7 per game, and is second in scoring, at 9.4 ppg.

In her second season at WSU, head coach Sherri Murrell (Pepperdine, 1991) has a 7-46 record with the Cougars. She is 127-125 in 10 seasons as a head coach.

THE SERIES vs. WASHINGTON STATE: With a 78-51 win over the Cougars at home earlier this season, the Wildcats have taken a narrow 18-17 lead in the series with Washington State. Arizona has won five in a row over WSU and nine of the last 10. The Cats' last loss to the Cougars was a 93-86 defeat in Pullman on Feb. 10, 2001.

Arizona has an 8-9 all-time record when playing in Pullman, including an 86-65 win there last year on Jan. 9, 2003.

LAST MEETING WITH WASHINGTON STATE: Despite a sluggish start, the Wildcats used a 16-0 run in the second half to put away the game and handed Washington State a 78-51 loss in Tucson on Dec. 29.

Neither team led by more than four points through the first 10 minutes of the game. The contest was tied at 11-11 at the 10:40 mark when the Wildcats ripped off six straight points to take a 17-11 lead at 8:35. Barely a minute later, WSU was back to within one (17-16). Arizona responded with a 10-3 spurt to gain an eight-point (27-19) advantage with 3:57 left in the half. The Wildcats held a 30-22 lead at halftime.

The Cats began the second half with a 9-4 spurt that pushed their lead to 13 points (39-26). Then Washington State went on a 9-2 run and slashed Arizona's edge to just six (41-35) with 13:38 to go. Over the next four minutes, the Cats capitalized on seven WSU turnovers and used a 16-0 run to go ahead by 20 points (55-35). The Cougars came no closer than 15 points for the rest of the game as Arizona won its 20th straight home game.

Reaching her fourth double-double of the season before halftime, Shawntinice Polk finished with game highs of 19 points and 17 rebounds. Dee-Dee Wheeler ripped off 19 points, 15 coming in the second half, and was credited with a game-high six assists.

Natalie Jones drained five of her six shot attempts, tallying 13 points and a game- and career-high five steals. Rookie Shannon Hobson was 4-for-5 from the floor on her way to 11 points.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON: After their win over Washington State in Pullman last weekend, the Huskies are 15-10 overall and 8-8 in Pac-10 action. Washington is currently tied for sixth in the league standings with Oregon State. The Huskies will face Arizona State on Thursday before wrapping up regular-season play against the Wildcats on Saturday.

With an average of 20.3 points per game, senior guard Giuliana Mendiola leads Washington and is second in 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 6.3 per contest.

In her eighth year at Washington, head coach June Daugherty (Ohio State, 1978) has a 137-96 record. She has a career mark of 260-170 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.

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.

Now in her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 234-146 (.616) mark at Arizona and is 559-217 (.720) in 25 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 128-103 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 104-55 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next week, all 10 of the conference teams will journey to San Jose, Calif., for the third annual State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament on Mar. 5-8. The bottom four teams will face off in two play-in games on Friday, Mar. 5, then action begins for everyone else on Saturday, Mar. 6. Semifinals games will be held on Sunday, Mar. 7, and the championship game will be played on Monday, Mar. 8, at 7:30 p.m. PST.

On Sunday, Mar. 14, the Wildcats will gather to watch the NCAA Selection Show, which starts at 3 p.m. MST. The Cats will be looking for their second straight NCAA tournament berth, their sixth appearance all-time.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- OREGON (Feb. 21): Arizona opened the game by scoring 11 unanswered points and never looked back as it rolled to an 84-58 win over Oregon at home on Feb. 21. The victory allowed the Cats to go undefeated at home, 14-0, for the first time in the history of the program.

After the game-opening run, the Wildcats extended their lead to 26-9 by the 6:44 mark in the first half, holding Oregon to just three field goals during that stretch. Arizona finished the half on a 17-11 run that gave it a 43-20 lead at halftime.

The Ducks began the second half with a 10-7 spurt that squeezed the lead back to 20 points (50-30) at 13:35, then Arizona blew the game open again with a 27-7 run that gave the Cats a 30-point (67-37) advantage with 7:02 to play. Oregon was never closer than 24 points after that, as the Wildcats extedned their home winning streak to 27 games.

Shawntinice Polk had the only blocked shot of the game early in the contest to become Arizona's career leader in blocks. She finished with game highs of 23 points and nine rebounds. Dee-Dee Wheeler added 16 points, five rebounds and five steals, while Natalie Jones contributed 14 points and four assists. Shannon Hobson shot 6-for-7 from the floor on her way to a new season-high of 13 points and five rebounds.

OREGON STATE (Feb. 19): Holding Oregon State to just 20 first-half points, the Wildcats ripped off a 77-54 win over the Beavers at home on Feb. 19.

Arizona opened the game with a 14-5 spurt in less than five minutes, then used a 13-6 run to gain a 16-point (27-11) lead at 11:31. Oregon State countered with five unanswered points to get back to within 11 (27-16) with 8:17 to go in the first, then the Wildcat defense kicked into high gear. Allowing the Beavers just one field goal in the final eight minutes of the half, the Cats out-scored OSU, 18-4, over the remainder of the period to take a 45-20 lead at the break.

The Wildcats began the second half with a 21-11 run to go up by 35 points (66-31), their largest lead of the game, at 13:21. When head coach Joan Bonvicini began emptying her bench, OSU took advantage of the opportunity to go on a 16-4 run that brought the Beavers back to within 23 points (70-47) with just over four minutes left in the game. Arizona quelled the comeback attempt, though, and rolled to its 26th consecutive home victory.

Shooting 8-for-14 from the floor, Shawntinice Polk led all scorers with game highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. Aimee Grzyb hit 6-for-9 from the field on her way to 15 points and four rebounds, while Dee-Dee Wheeler just missed a double-double with 12 points and a career-high nine assists. Shannon Hobson added 11 points and five rebounds.

POLKEY BECOMES ARIZONA BLOCKS LEADER: Garnering the only blocked shot of the game early in the first half against Oregon on Feb. 21, Shawntinice Polk became Arizona's career leader in blocked shots, with 148. 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 14 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 181 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 11.3 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 38.0 percent (120-316) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.

With two games left in regular-season conference action, the Wildcats have already set a new school record by allowing opponents to hit 120 three-pointers in Pac-10 play. The previous record was 106, set by the 2001-02 team.

CATS SEE SECOND-BEST ATTENDANCE AVERAGE IN HISTORY: An average of 2,774 fans per game came to see the Wildcats play in McKale Center this year, the second-best attendance average in the program's history. Last year's average of 2,867 is the program's best.

The Wildcats logged four of the program's best crowds this season as well. The home finale against Oregon on Feb. 21 drew 5,003, the third-best crowd ever. The 4,350 for the UCLA game on Jan. 17 is sixth-best, and the 4,111 for both the Stanford (Feb. 5) and Arizona State (Jan. 2) games are tied for eighth-best all-time. The Cats saw an average attendance of 3,368 for home Pac-10 games this year.

STICKY FINGERS: Dee-Dee Wheeler has amassed a career-best season total of 75 steals already 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 75 currently ranks ninth on the UA's single-season top 10 list in that category.

In Pac-10 play, Wheeler has 54 steals, just four away from setting a new school record for thefts in conference action. The current record is 57, set by Keisha Anderson in 1992-93.

CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.2 percent of their charity shots for the season, they have been hitting them when it counts the most. In the final two minutes of action during this season's games, the Cats are shooting 73.2 (52-71) percent from the free throw line, including a solid 75.0 (30-40) percent in Pac-10 action.

STARTING SUITS HER: Freshman forward Shannon Hobson seems finally to be coming into her own. Since entering the starting lineup for the Cats nine games ago, Hobson has averaged 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and has made 52.0 percent (26-50) of her shot attempts. She has also played a total of 191 minutes in the last nine 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 17 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 17 contests, she has averaged 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.3 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 51.0 percent (132-259) of her shots over the last 17 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in nine of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 12 of the last 17 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 18.8 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 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She is also shooting a solid 44.3 percent (54-122) 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 3-4 on the road in conference action and has lost its last three 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 21-28 when playing on the road, including a paltry 13-21 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 14-6 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 34-11 when she scores 15 points or more.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 19-1 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-6 when shooting worse... 16-1 when tied or leading at the half... 18-2 when giving up 69 points or less, but 2-5 when allowing 70 points or more... 16-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 18-3 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 15-2 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.

GOING POLLING: Five of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls. According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 10 and LSU is No. 15. UC Santa Barbara was among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 10, and LSU is No. 17. Arizona State and USC both received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 394-438 (.474) all-time record, however it is 184-81 (.694) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 220-116 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 14-0 record at home, are 5-6 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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