Wildcats Advance To Pac-10 Title Game
March 7, 2004
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. - After the game, Arizona coach Joan Bonviciniglanced to her left to look at Shawntinice Polk, then gave the starsophomore center an appreciative smile.
Polk had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Arizona won its sixth straightgame, 77-55 over Washington in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournamentSunday.
'Oh, it's so nice to have someone like Polkie in the middle,' Bonvicinisaid.
Second-seeded Arizona (24-7) has won five straight meetings againstWashington, which played in the semifinals for the second straight year.The Wildcats held the cold-shooting Huskies scoreless for almost fourminutes in the second half.
Arizona will play either top-seeded Stanford, ranked 12th in thecountry, or UCLA for the title Monday night. Polk certainly was rooting forthe Cardinal.
When asked whether she wants another shot at Stanford, she said: 'Yes!Definitely.'
Senior Giuliana Mendiola led Washington (17-12) with 24 points, eightrebounds and four assists and shot 10-for-15. Her sister, Gioconda, playingher second game following a suspension by coach June Daugherty for strikingArizona State's Kylan Loney in the face, was held to four points on 1-for-8shooting.
Andrea Lalum added 13 for Washington, making 3 of 7 3-pointers.
Polk, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center and the Pac-10 freshman of the yearlast season, played a smart game and stayed out of foul trouble _ somethingthat was a problem for her this season when she fouled out of seven games.
Polk also passed for two assists, including a controlled tap off a passthat went to Aimee Grzyb for a lay-in. Grzyb, who's from San Jose, left thegame 37 seconds before halftime with a hurt left ankle after landingawkwardly following a pass, but returned in the second half and finishedwith 14 points and four rebounds.
'It's very tough for us to go out this way,' Daugherty said. 'We ranout of fuel a little bit. Arizona just keeps coming at you. They wore usdown. I felt like there was a lid on the basket in the second half.'
Washington shot 30.3 percent after halftime and 36.8 for the game.
'We were getting good shots all through the game, but in the secondhalf they just didn't fall for us,' Giuliana Mendiola said.
Natalie Jones added 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists forArizona and Dee-Dee Wheeler had 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The No. 6-seeded Huskies had won four of their last five games, withthe one loss coming to Arizona.
The Wildcats beat Washington 71-54 in Seattle on Feb. 28 to end theregular season and 89-74 in Tucson to open conference play.
The Wildcats outmatched the Huskies inside, leading to many easybaskets in the paint. Washington used two defenders to collapse on Polk andkeep the ball out of her hands, but it didn't work. Polk scored 12 of herpoints in the first half.
'We prefer to go inside, but we know we can hit the outside shot, too,'Bonvicini said. 'Everything was working for us tonight.'
The Huskies had seven turnovers in the first eight minutes and Arizonabegan the game by making eight of 14 field goals to take a 19-10 lead.
Lalum's 3-pointer 7:55 before halftime pulled the Huskies within 22-20,but the Wildcats answered with a 7-0 run and led 37-30 at the break.