TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The No. 24 Arizona women’s basketball team will advance to the semifinals of the Sportsview.tv Preseason WNIT after defeating Rice 68-43 in the second round at McKale Center this afternoon. With the win, the Wildcats improve to 2-0 on the season and move their home winning streak to 29, dating back to the 2002-03 season.
“I’m impressed with our defense and rebounding,” Head Coach Joan Bonvicini said. “It’s interesting because we wanted to focus on those to beat Rice today. Rice is an outstanding rebounding team.”
“I am concerned we didn’t execute well in our offense,” she continued. “We really need to do a better job there. I thought Pokey had a good game and Dee-Dee played well. Natalie mixed it up well today, also.”
Arizona shot 39 percent (25-of-65) from the field on the game, while Rice managed just 19 percent (12-of-62). The Wildcats out-rebounded the Owls 61 to 41. The 61 rebounds in a game ranks tied for eighth place all-time at Arizona.
Junior Shawntinice Polk recorded her second double-double in as many games and the 39th of her career. She finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler added 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Junior Natalie Jones was just shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman guard Jessica Arnold added eight points and three rebounds, while sophomore Shannon Hobson and freshman Ch?© Oh tallied six points apiece. Hobson also added six rebounds and three blocks.
The Wildcats held Rice scoreless for the first 4:22 of the game, taking a 9-3 lead. The Owls cut the lead to seven twice, but Arizona went on an 18-0 run, holding Rice scoreless for 9:33, to go up 33-8. The Wildcats led by as many as 30 and went into the locker room at halftime up by 22, 42-20.
Arizona shot 49 percent (17-of-35) from the field on the half, compared to the 24 percent of the Owls. Both teams shot 25 percent from three-point range and 50 percent from the charity stripe on the half. The Wildcats out-rebounded Rice 31 to 15.
Polk led the Wildcats with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Wheeler added eight points and Arnold had six.
In the second half, Arizona overcame poor shooting to maintain its 20-plus point lead throughout. The Wildcats managed just 27 percent from the field (8-of-30) and missed all six three-point attempts. Luckily for Arizona, Rice connected on just 13 percent of its shots in the half. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Owls 30 to 26 on the half.
Polk led the Wildcats with seven points and eight rebounds, while Jones added seven boards and five points.
Arizona travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a 7 p.m. game against No. 9/10 Ohio State this Wednesday, Nov. 17. The Buckeyes defeated Saint Joseph’s 76-29 in their second-round game today.