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Arizona Women Face California in Regular-Season Finale
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/28/2003
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 28, 2003

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The 24th-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (19-7 overall; 12-5 Pac-10) wraps up regular season play on Saturday, Mar. 1, against California at 1 p.m. in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net. Dave Sitton and Mary Murphy will be calling all the action for that contest. A brief ceremony will be held after the Cal game to honor this year's Wildcat seniors -- players Krista Warren and Julie Brase and manager Alexis Johansen.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: On a modest three-game win streak, the Wildcats have won six of their last seven games and are 19-7 overall and 12-5 in Pac-10 play. The Cats' 12 conference wins this year is their highest Pac-10 victory total since the 1999-2000 team got 13 league wins. Arizona is coming off a huge 79-64 upset of conference champion and ninth-ranked Stanford on Thursday.

The Wildcats have moved back up into a tie with Washington (12-5) for second in the Pac-10 standings, behind Stanford at 14-3. A win over Cal on Saturday would result in at least a tie for second place, which would equal Arizona's best finish ever in the conference standings. The Cats tied for second in both the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 seasons.

Arizona is currently 8-0 at home in Pac-10 play this year. A win over Cal on Saturday would put the Cats at 9-0 in home conference games for the first time in school history. So far, the best records ever in league games at home was 8-1 in both 1997-98 and 1998-99.

A win over Cal would also give Arizona its first 20-win season since 2000-01, and it would be Arizona's first time to reach 20 wins in regular season play since the 1999-2000 season.

With averages of 17.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, freshman center Shawntinice Polk continues to lead Arizona in both categories. With a school-record 19 double-doubles on the season, Polk has also tied the school record for most rebounds in a season, with 284, which is also a UA freshman record. With 460 points on the year, Polk needs just four more to tie the Arizona freshman scoring record as well.

Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in scoring, with 17.0 ppg, and is third in rebounding, with 4.7 rpg. Senior forward Krista Warren is second in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game, and is fourth in scoring (11.2 ppg). Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is third on the scoring chart, at 11.4 ppg.

THIS COULD BE CONFUSING: The Cats' seed in the Pac-10 Tournament is still very much up in the air, although it looks like the worse they could do would be the No. 3 seed, provided they beat Cal on Saturday. An Arizona sweep this weekend and a Washington loss to Washington State on Saturday would give the Cats sole possession of second, but an Arizona sweep and a Washington win would tie the Cats for second.

That's when a series of tie-breakers would come into play to determine the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds for the conference tournament. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head, but Washington and Arizona split this year. The second tie-breaker is how each team performed against the rest of the conference from top down. Since both teams have split with Stanford, you then have to look at all the following teams to determine seed. That's where a whole host of "what-ifs" would come into play, determined by the outcomes of all of this weekend's games.

So, stay tuned to the Pac-10's web site, www.pac-10.org, for final seedings, which should be announced around 6 p.m. PST on Saturday, Mar. 1.

POLKEY TIES REBOUNDING RECORD: With 284 rebounds on the year, Shawntinice Polk has tied the school record for most rebounds in a season. The current record is 284, set by Tonee Buntin in 1981-82.

HOME WIN STREAK GOES TO TWELVE: The Cats have won 12 games in a row at home, the third-longest home win streak in the program's history. The last time the Wildcats won that many consecutive home games was when they logged 13 straight home wins from Nov. 18, 2000, to Feb. 18, 2001. The school record for longest home win streak is 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.

CATS IN THE PAC-10 STATS: As a team, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.482) and field goal percentage defense (.385) and is second in scoring (74.9 ppg), scoring margin (+10.8 ppg), rebounding (39.5 rpg), blocks (3.77 bpg), assists (17.85 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.96).

Individually, Shawntinice Polk leads the league in rebounding (10.9 rpg), field goal percentage (.622) and blocked shots (2.46 bpg) and is second in scoring (17.7 ppg). Julie Brase is the conference leader in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.06) and is third in assists (4.19 apg). Krista Warren is second in field goal percentage (.583).

CATS IN THE NATIONAL STATS: In this week's NCAA statistics, through games of Feb. 24, Shawntinice Polk was eighth in the nation in field goal percentage (.619), 10th in rebounding (10.9 rpg) and 18th in blocked shots (2.4 bpg). Polkey is the only freshman among the top 30 rebounders in the nation.

In the NCAA team stats, Arizona was seventh in the nation in field goal percentage (.484), 14th in assists per game (18.1 apg) and 26th in scoring (74.7 ppg).

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears are 9-17 overall and 5-12 in conference action after a 61-47 loss at Arizona State on Thursday. Cal has lost five of its last six games, with the only win in that stretch coming in the form of a 60-50 victory over USC at home on Feb. 22.

Junior guard Nihan Anaz has a narrow lead in the Golden Bear scoring race, averaging 10.2 points per game. Junior center Timea Ivanyi is second in scoring, at 10.1 ppg, and is the team's top rebounder, averaging 5.1 boards per game. Sophomore forward Leigh Gregory is the second-leading rebounder (4.9 rpg) and is third in scoring (9.3 ppg).

In her third season with the Golden Bears, head coach Caren Horstmeyer (Santa Clara, 1984) has a 28-54 record at Cal. She has a career mark of 249-178 in 15 years.

THE SERIES vs. CALIFORNIA: Arizona has a solid 24-13 lead in the series with California, the only Pac-10 series in which the Wildcats have a lead. The Cats have won 15 in a row over the Golden Bears and 18 of the last 19, including an 83-53 win over Cal earlier this season in Berkeley. Arizona is 13-4 all-time when playing California in Tucson. The Wildcats haven't lost to Cal since Feb. 11, 1995 (94-66 in Berkeley), and they haven't lost a home game to the Bears since Mar. 4, 1993, an 81-74 defeat.

LAST MEETING WITH CALIFORNIA: Then-21st-ranked Arizona overcame 26 turnovers with 64.3 percent shooting from the field when it drilled California, 83-53, in Berkeley on Dec. 27. The 30-point win was Arizona's biggest spread ever in Berkeley.

Coming in from Christmas break, the Cats were sluggish in the opening minutes of the game, never trailing but never leading by more than seven points in the first 15 minutes. They also committed 12 turnovers during that stretch. The Wildcats out-scored Cal, 13-2, over the final 5:20 of the first half to take a 37-20 lead into the break.

The Cats began the second half with a 14-2 run that pushed their lead to 29 points (51-22), which the Bears answered with an 11-3 spurt that cut the lead to 21 (54-33) at 13:39.

That was the closest Cal would be for the rest of the game, as Arizona used a 29-13 run over the next 11 minutes to stretch their advantage to 37 points (83-46), their largest lead, with 2:58 to play. Cal scored the final seven points of the game.

Arizona shot 64.3 percent (36-56) from the floor, tying the school record for single-game field goal percentage. They also drained six of their seven three-point attempts and were credited with 21 assists on 36 buckets.

Dee-Dee Wheeler shot 13-for-16 from the floor on her way to a new career high of 29 points to go along with five rebounds, four steals and a trio of assists. Aimee Grzyb was 8-for-9 from the field, tallying a season-high 18 points with four assists.

Shawntinice Polk, who was fighting an upper respiratory infection, was held to just six rebounds to go with 17 points, ending her school-record double-double streak at eight. Julie Brase added seven points and five assists, and Robin Roberson logged a career-high nine rebounds and six points.

RECAPPING THE STANFORD GAME: Shooting 15-for-16 from the line in the final two minutes of the game, Arizona pulled off a 79-64 upset of ninth-ranked Stanford at home on Thursday night.

The game was close through the early goings, with four ties in the first seven minutes of action. Then Arizona put on 22-5 run over the next 10 minutes to gain a 17-point (33-16) advantage with 3:33 to play in the half. The Cardinal out-scored the Cats, 8-4, over the remainder of the period, but Arizona still held a 37-24 lead at the break.

Stanford scored six unanswered points to open the second half, cutting the Cats' lead to seven in the first two minutes of the period. Then Wildcat Natalie Jones converted a three-point play to put the Cats back up by 10 (40-30) at 15:24. The Cardinal stayed with the Wildcats and used a 5-0 spurt late in the half to crawl back to within six points (57-51) with 5:10 left in the game.

Arizona's Dee-Dee Wheeler stopped the Stanford run by draining her fourth 3-pointer of the game at 4:43, then scored on a lay-up just 52 seconds later to put the Cats back up by 11 (62-51) with 3:51 to play. That started what would prove to be a 9-0 spurt for Arizona, and the Cardinal never got closer than 11 points for the rest of the game.

Wheeler finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the floor, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. Shawntinice Polk hit 9-of-13 from the floor on her way to 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, marking her 19th double-double of the season. Krista Warren added 10 points and seven rebounds, and Julie Brase had 10 points.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Wildcats head for San Jose, Calif., to participate in the second annual State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament on Mar. 7-10 at HP Pavilion. All 10 conference women's teams will participate in the tournament, with the bottom four seeds competing in "play-in" games on Friday, Mar. 7. First-round action officially begins on Saturday, Mar. 8.

Hoping for a return to the "Big Dance" for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the team will gather on Sunday, Mar. 16, to watch the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on ESPN at 3 p.m. The Cats last saw postseason action in the WNIT at the end of the 2000-01 season.

POLKEY SETS NEW BLOCKS RECORD: With 64 blocked shots on the year, Shawntinice Polk has eclipsed the school record for single-season blocks. The old record was 53, set by Tonee Buntin in 1981-82 and tied by Marte Alexander in 1997-98.

LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 10 of its last 14 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games last season but are just 4-4 on TV this year.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD MONTH: The Cats had a very good February, logging a 6-1 record during the month's action. That's Arizona's best record for the month of February since the 1998-99 team went 6-1 in the same month.

TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE PAC-10 STATS: In conference action only, Arizona is the top team in the league in scoring defense (62.4 ppg), scoring margin (+11.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.482), field goal percentage defense (.380) and assists (17.53 apg). Arizona is the only team in the Pac-10 that is holding conference opponents under 40 percent shooting in league play.

In Pac-10 games, Shawntinice Polk is shooting a conference-best 63.5 percent from the floor.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 41 of their last 51 home games and are 83-15 on their home court over the last five seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 12 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 128-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 194-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Arizona's numbers at home have simply been outstanding this season. Not only are the Cats 12-1 in home contests this season, they have out-scored opponents by an average of 16.4 points per game and have out-rebounded opponents by an average of 6.1 boards per game. Arizona is hitting a whopping 49.1 percent (406-827) of its shots from the field in home games, including a solid 35.1 percent (74-211) from three-point range. The Cats are averaging 78.3 points, 40.7 rebounds and 19.1 assists per game in McKale this season.

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, and that's definitely the way it's been for the last several weeks. Over the Cats' last 10 wins, Dee-Dee Wheeler averaged 20.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and shot 51.7 percent (78-151) from the field, including 46.3 percent (19-41) from three-point range. On the season, Arizona is 9-0 when Dee-Dee Wheeler reaches the 20-point mark.

In the Wildcats' last four losses, Wheeler averaged only 13.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg. She shot just 36.6 percent (23-63) from the field and a mere 19.2 percent (5-26) from beyond the arc.

TAKING DOWN THE RANKED TEAMS: The Wildcats have beaten three ranked teams this season, the most wins over Top 25 teams since beating four ranked squads in 1997-98.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: The Wildcats are 13-2 this season when out-rebounding their opponents... They are 5-5 when being out-rebounded... The Cats are 18-4 when holding their opponents to 73 points or less... They gave up 78 points or more in three of their seven losses... Arizona is 13-0 when scoring 75 or more points... The Cats are 19-3 when shooting better than their opponent from the floor but are 0-4 when shooting worse... Arizona is 14-2 when four or more players reach double digits in scoring but is only 5-5 when three or fewer players get to double figures... The Wildcats are 10-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

GOTTA CRASH THE BOARDS: Although dominating on the boards for much of the season, Arizona has been out-rebounded in four of its last six games. The Cats have been out-rebounded in three straight games.

TIRED OF 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 went just 4-5 in Pac-10 road games and lost four of its last six road contests in conference action. The Wildcats have played 13 road games this year, and USC is the only Pac-10 team that has been on the road more than Arizona, with 16 away games.

Struggling on the road has become a disturbing trend for Arizona over the last few seasons. Since the 2000-01 season, the Wildcats are just 16-22 when playing on the road, including a paltry 10-17 mark in Pac-10 road games. The last time the Cats had a winning road record was in 1999-2000, when they were 9-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-10 away games.

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 31-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 148-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 108-14 when topping that 80-point plateau.

FREE THROW WOES: The Wildcats have really struggled from the free throw line this season. They are shooting a paltry 63.0 percent (267-424) from the stripe and have shot better than 60 percent in only 13 games.

This is unusual for a Bonvicini-coached team at Arizona. No UA team has ever shot below 65 percent since Bonvicini's arrival in 1991-92, and the Cats hit 70 percent or better from the line in three of the last four seasons. Last year's team drained a sizzling 74.0 percent of its charity shots.

BUT WE'RE GETTING BETTER...: The positive is that, after shooting just 57.3 percent (130-227) from the line over the first 15 games of the season, the Wildcats have hit 69.5 percent (137-197) of their free throws over the last 10 contests. The Cats shot a season-high 85.0 percent (17-20) from the line when they played at USC on Feb. 16.

DOUBLING UP: As a team, the Cats have tallied 23 double-doubles this season, setting a new school record for most double-doubles in a season. The old mark was 22 double-doubles, set by the 1981-82 squad.

CHECKING THE RPIs: In the Feb. 24 WBCA/Summerville RPI listings, Arizona's RPI rank was No. 34, and its strength of schedule rank is No. 79. Eight of the Cats' opponents this season are currently in the top 50 in the RPI rankings -- LSU (No. 4), Stanford (No. 13), Georgia (No. 16), Illinois (No. 23), Ohio State (No. 24), New Mexico (No. 38), Washington (No. 39) and Pepperdine (No. 40).

GOING POLLING: Eight of the 18 opponents on the Cats' 2002-03 schedule were either ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

In this week's Associated Press Top 25, LSU is ranked No. 4, Stanford is No. 9, Georgia is No. 14 and Washington is No. 25. Ohio State was among teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, LSU is No. 4, Stanford is No. 9 and Georgia is No. 16. Ohio State, Washington, Pepperdine, Illinois and Arizona State all received votes for ranking.

CURRENT CATS ON THE UA CAREER LISTS: Wildcat senior Julie Brase is fourth on the UA career list in three-pointers made (119), fourth in three-pointers attempted (326), fourth in three-point percentage (.365) and is ninth in total minutes played (2818).

Senior forward Krista Warren is fifth in career rebounding average (5.6 rpg), fifth in total rebounds (607), seventh in field goal percentage (.506) and is tied for ninth in double-doubles (8).

Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in career three-pointers made (143), third in three-pointers attempted (395), fourth in minutes-played average (30.8 mpg) and fifth in three-point percentage (.362).

Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is first in career three-point percentage (.393), fifth in minutes-played average (30.7 mpg), seventh in three-point field goals made (84) and eighth in three-pointers attempted (214).

CAT SCRATCHES: In Pac-10 play, Arizona is giving up an average of 9.2 more points per game in the second half than in the first... The Wildcats have out-rebounded their opponents by 20 boards or more in three games this season... The Arizona women's basketball program has a 371-426 (.465) all-time record, however it is 175-90 (.660) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 205-111 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 12-1 in home games, 7-6 on the road and 0-0 in neutral contests this season. Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.

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