UA Women's Basketball Looking for Wins Down the Stretch

Feb. 12, 2002

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: The University of Arizona women's basketball team (12-12 overall, 8-7 Pac-10) will be seeking to pull out of seventh place in the Pac-10 and improve its conference tournament seeding when it plays host to the Los Angeles schools this week. The Wildcats will face UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m., then the Cats take on USC on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. in the McKale Center. Arizona will end regular-season play with three straight home games.

45 - Elizabeth Pickney (F, 6-4, Sr., Houston, TX) - 17.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.3 bpg
11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, Fr., Chicago, IL) - 12.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.4 apg
13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, So., San Jose, CA) - 10.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.1 apg
20 - Julie Brase (G, 5-10, Jr., Tucson, AZ) - 5.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 apg
31 - Robin Roberson (G/F, 6-0, Fr., Berkeley, CA) - 5.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.9 apg

35 - Krista Warren (F/G, 6-2, Jr., Cloverdale, CA) - 8.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg
4 - Candice Allen (G, 5-10, So., Ontario, CA) - 9.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.4 spg
50 - LaKeisha Taylor (C, 6-4, Sr., Houston, TX) - 10.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 apg
44 - Danielle Adefeso (F, 6-3, Fr., Los Angeles, CA) - 1.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.1 bpg
24 - Michelle Tibbetts (G/F, 6-0, Fr., Burnsville, MN) - 0.5 ppg, 0.3 rpg

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Wildcats should be back at 100% this week, with the return of post players Krista Warren and LaKeisha Taylor. Arizona split last weekend's games in the Pacific Northwest, losing a close one to Washington (77-73), then drilling Washington State (106-60). The Cats are now 12-12 overall and 8-7 in Pac-10 play.

Although the McKale Center has historically been kind to the Cats, they already have five losses at home this season, their most losses in McKale since the 1994-95 team dropped seven home games.

After putting up some big numbers last weekend, senior forward Elizabeth Pickney has lifted her team-best scoring average to 17.1 ppg. Freshman guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in scoring, with 12.4 ppg, followed by senior center LaKeisha Taylor (10.3 ppg) and sophomore guard Aimee Grzyb (10.2 ppg).

Pickney is also the team's top rebounder, averaging 8.2 boards per game. Krista Warren is second with an average of 8.1 rpg, while Taylor is third, grabbing 6.0 rpg.

As a team, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in free throw percentage (.755), is second in scoring (75.2 ppg), second in three-point field goal percentage (.363), third in three-pointers made per game (5.88 pg), third in overall field goal percentage (.433) and third in assists (15.25 apg).

Individually, Candice Allen is second in steals (2.35 spg), Krista Warren is fifth in rebounding (8.1 rpg), and LaKeisha Taylor is fifth in overall field goal percentage (.485). Elizabeth Pickney is third in blocked shots (1.29 bpg), fourth in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and fourth in free throw percentage (.847)

INJURY REPORT: Krista Warren missed the last four games with a severe ankle sprain suffered during practice on Jan. 29. She is slated to return to action this week.

LaKeisha Taylor missed the Washington State game with a minor ankle injury but is expected to play this week.

CATS HIRE NEW ASSISTANT COACH: New assistant coach Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983) was added to the Wildcat staff on Monday, Feb. 11. She has 16 years of Division I coaching experience, including six years as head coach at Gonzaga. She will assist with recruiting, scouting and floor work with the players. Barney replaced former assistant Karen Caires, who resigned last December.

SCOUTING UCLA: With two wins in their last four games, the Bruins are 7-16 overall and 3-11 in conference action. Last week UCLA downed Long Beach State (77-73) in its final nonconference game on Feb. 5, then dropped a 71-58 decision at rival USC last Saturday.

Sophomore forward Whitney Jones is leading the Bruins in scoring, with 9.1 points per game, followed by senior center Shalada Allen (8.6 ppg) and junior guard Natalie Nakase (8.3 ppg). Nakase has the team's best average in Pac-10 play, however, with 10.0 ppg. Senior center Malika Leatham is the Bruins' top rebounder, at 6.0 per game, followed by Allen's 5.2 rpg.

In her ninth season at UCLA, head coach Kathy Olivier (UNLV, 1982) has a 128-134 record with the Bruins.

THE SERIES vs. UCLA: The Bruins have a solid 34-13 lead in the series with Arizona. The Wildcats have won two in a row over UCLA, after snapping a five-game losing streak to the Bruins last season. The Cats split with UCLA last year, and earlier this season, Arizona logged a 71-60 victory over the Bruins in Pauley on Jan. 19. Arizona has a 7-16 all-time mark when facing UCLA at home.

LAST MEETING WITH UCLA: With a career-high 19 points from sophomore guard Aimee Grzyb, Arizona topped UCLA, 71-60, in Pauley on Jan. 19, completing its first sweep in L.A. since 1998. That was also Arizona's first win in Pauley since '98.

The first half was a low-scoring one for both teams, with UCLA holding only a 13-9 lead eight minutes into the period. On fire from three-point range, Grzyb scored all of Arizona's first nine points in the game.

Then the Wildcats scored seven unanswered points to go ahead by three (16-13) at 11:16. The teams traded buckets for four more minutes until Arizona had another seven-point run that gave it a six-point (26-20) edge with 4:53 left in the period. UCLA got back to within one (26-25) three minutes later, but the Cats used an 8-2 spurt to gain a narrow five-point (33-28) lead at halftime.

The Cats pushed their lead to 11 (43-32) at 15:22 by opening the second half with a 10-4 run. The Bruins fought back to within six points three different times over the next six minutes and were down by only eight (55-47) with 5:49 left in the game. That's when the UA ripped off seven straight points to go up by 15 (62-47), its largest lead of the game, with four minutes remaining. UCLA never got closer than the final spread of 11 points after that.

Aimee Grzyb was 5-for-7 from three-point range on her way to a career- and game-high 19 points. Krista Warren was the only other Wildcat to reach double digits in scoring, racking up 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

SCOUTING USC: The Women of Troy have won three of their last four games to improve to 13-10 overall and 9-5 in Pac-10 action. USC downed UCLA, 71-58, at home last Saturday, after coming off a split with the Washington schools in L.A. The Women of Troy will play at Arizona State on Thursday before heading to Tucson for Saturday's game.

Sophomore guard Aisha Hollans sports a team-best 17.5 ppg scoring average and is second on the squad in rebounding, with 6.4 rpg. Sophomore forward Ebony Hoffman is the team's second-leading scorer, with 14.4 ppg, and tops USC in rebounding, at 9.0 rpg. Freshman forward Rachel Woodward (11.4 ppg) and senior guard Tiffany Elmore (10.9 ppg) follow on the scoring chart.

In her fifth year with the Women of Troy, head coach Chris Gobrecht (USC, 1977) holds a 61-74 record at her alma mater. She has a career record of 393-277 in 24 years as a head coach.

THE SERIES vs. USC: The Women of Troy have a 35-12 lead in the series with Arizona, although the Wildcats have won 10 of the last 13 meetings with USC. The Cats split with USC last season and slipped by the Women of Troy, 78-74, earlier this year on Jan. 17. Arizona has a 7-15 all-time record against USC in Tucson, and the Cats haven't lost to the Women of Troy at home since 1997.

LAST MEETING WITH USC: Senior center LaKeisha Taylor drained a pair of free throws with five seconds left in the game to assure Arizona of its first Pac-10 road victory in more than a year when the Wildcats beat USC, 78-74, in the L.A. Sports Arena on Jan. 17.

The Women of Troy, who were without three of their starters due to injuries and suspensions, opened up a 13-4 lead on the Cats in the first six minutes of the game. Arizona fought back with a 17-7 run to take its first lead in the game, 21-20, with 5:35 left in the first. The two teams traded buckets for a while until the Wildcats ended the half with seven unanswered points to take a 36-29 lead into halftime.

USC quickly cut the lead to one (36-35) by opening the second half with six straight points, which Arizona answered with an 8-0 spurt to regain a nine-point (44-35) advantage at 16:18. The next six minutes were back-and-forth, with USC slowly whittling away at the Cats' lead, cutting it to three (54-51) with 10:39 to play.

Arizona went on a 17-4 tear to blow the lead open to 16 points (71-55) with 6:12 left. Then, with 4:24 remaining, USC began a stretch of 11 unanswered points, slicing Arizona's lead to only one point (75-74) with just 40 seconds left in the game. During that stretch, the Wildcats committed four turnovers and four fouls.

Aimee Grzyb missed a shot with 25 seconds left and was fouled. She made the front end of a one-and-one, but USC rebounded the miss on her second attempt.

The Trojans were unable to convert a layup at the other end, and LaKeisha Taylor was fouled on the rebound. She went to the line for the Cats, who were up by only two (76-74) and coolly converted both her free throws to give Arizona the four-point lead and the victory. A USC trey attempt at the buzzer didn't go, and the Cats came away with their first Pac-10 road win since Jan. 6, 2001.

Taylor finished the game in a tie with Aimee Grzyb for the team scoring lead, each knocking down 15 points, and she grabbed eight boards. Elizabeth Pickney collected 14 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season, and Candice Allen came off the bench for 12 points, five rebounds and five steals.

ARIZONA'S LAST TIME OUT: Despite having only eight active players for the game, Arizona pounded Washington State for the second time this season, 106-60, in Pullman on Feb. 9.

The Wildcats opened the contest with seven straight points, which were answered by Washington State with its own 7-0 spurt, tying the game at 14-14 at the 12:40 mark. Less than two minutes later, the Cats were back up by seven (21-14), but the Cougars scrapped back to within four (21-17) with 10:32 left in the half.

Arizona then put on a monster 30-3 run over the next eight minutes to gain a 31-point (51-20) lead with just over two minutes remaining in the period. WSU managed to put a dent in that lead by scoring eight straight points to end the half, but the Cougars still trailed, 51-28, at the break.

The teams traded buckets through the first five minutes of the second half, then Arizona used a 10-2 run to go up by 33 points (72-39) at 13:29. The Cougars got back to within 30 points four times after that, but that was the closest they would come for the remainder of the game. With 2:02 left in the contest, Aimee Grzyb nailed a jumper to give the Cats their largest lead of the contest at 47 points (102-55).

Six Wildcats reached double-digits in scoring, led by junior guard Julie Brase's career- and game-high of 22 points. Elizabeth Pickney collected 21 points and seven rebounds, while Robin Roberson and Dee-Dee Wheeler were just one point off their career highs, with 19 apiece. Danielle Adefeso tallied new career highs of 12 points and eight rebounds, and Aimee Grzyb contributed 10 points and a career- and game-high eight assists.

HEAD COACH JOAN BONVICINI: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has nurtured the Wildcat program into an upward-rising powerhouse. In 11 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to six straight postseason appearances, including four NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

In her 11th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 191-129 (.597) mark at Arizona and is 516-200 (.721) in 23 years as a head coach. She is 23-14 in NCAA tournament play and has never lost a first-round game 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 101-92 against Pac-10 teams, although they have a 67-37 league mark over the last six seasons combined.

THE REST OF THE STAFF: Awarded the title of associate head coach in 1998, Denise Dove Ianello (Northern Illinois, 1992) is in her 10th year at the UA, functioning as both the team's recruiting coordinator and a perimeter coach. In his third year at the UA, assistant coach Curtis Loyd (Southern Utah, 1994) is involved with scouting and with coaching the post players and is the director of the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp. New assistant coach Kellee Barney (Idaho, 1983) was just added to the Wildcat staff on Feb. 11. She will assist primarily with recruiting, scouting and floor work with the players.

LOOKING AHEAD: Arizona will face rival Arizona State in the final regular-season game for both teams on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. in McKale. The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

All 10 Pac-10 women's teams will head up to Eugene, Ore., for the inaugural Pac-10 Conference Tournament on Mar. 1-4.

FREE-WHEELIN': Freshman Dee-Dee Wheeler has been an exceptional rookie all season, but over the last four games, she has been phenomenal. She has averaged 17.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game over that stretch. She has also been shooting 64.1 percent (25-39) from the floor, 61.5 percent (8-13) from three-point range and 83.3 percent (10-12) from the line. Wheeler is among the current Pac-10 leaders in seven different statistical categories.

Wheeler has reached double digits in scoring in 17 games this season. That's the highest number of double-digit scoring performances for any Wildcat freshman since Elizabeth Pickney tallied 19 during the 1998-99 season.

ASU GAME ADDED TO TELEVISION SLATE: The Wildcats' game against rival Arizona State at home on Saturday, Feb. 23, has been picked up for national broadcast on Fox Sports Net that day at 2 p.m. That's a bonus for the Cats, who are 5-0 when playing on TV this season.

IT COULD HAPPEN: Is it possible that one of the multitude of school records set by former Wildcat great Adia Barnes could be broken this season? Definitely! Elizabeth Pickney has made a total of 459 free throws for her career, only 13 shy of Barnes' record of 472, which was compiled over the 1995-98 seasons. Pickney has to drain only an average of four or more free throws per game for the remainder of the season to break Barnes' record. She is currently averaging 5.5 free throws made per game.

Barnes' record of 671 free throws attempted is in no danger of being broken, however. Pickney has amassed only 596 attempts.

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: Over the first 13 games of the season, the Wildcats averaged only 69.2 points per game and shot only 40.2 percent from the floor, including 32.9 percent from three-point range, while garnering a paltry 5-8 record. However, over their last 11 games, the Cats have averaged 82.3 ppg and have been shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 40.3 percent from beyond the arc while collecting a 7-4 mark.

RETURN OF THE TWIN TOWERS: After a couple of weeks of less-than-stellar performances from the senior post players, the Wildcats' 'Twin Towers' -- Elizabeth Pickney and LaKeisha Taylor -- have been putting up some big numbers over the last few games.

During the last six contests, Pickney has averaged 20.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. She has hit 47.5 percent (38-80) of her shots from the floor, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, and has shot 83.9 percent (47-56) from the free throw line.

Over her last four games, Taylor shot 58.7 percent (27-46) from the floor and 84.2 percent (16-19) from the line while averaging 17.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. She pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds at Washington on Feb. 7.

STILL CLIMBING: Going over the 700-rebound mark for her career while in Washington last weekend, Elizabeth Pickney has become one of only two Wildcats ever to top both 1500 points and 700 rebounds. She has career totals of 1579 points and 709 boards. Adia Barnes was the only previous player to accomplish such a feat, with 2237 career points and 921 rebounds.

PUT UP SOME POINTS: The Cats are 6-3 this season when Elizabeth Pickney scores 20 points or more.

NOTING THE PAC-10: Stanford (24-1 overall) continues to dominate the league and has secured at least a portion of the 2002 league title with a perfect 14-0 mark in conference action. Washington has a narrow hold on second place with a 10-4 conference mark, followed closely by Arizona State's 10-5 record. USC (9-5) is alone in fourth place, and Oregon State (9-6) is in fifth. Arizona is still tied for sixth place with Oregon, each team at 8-7. UCLA (3-11 Pac-10), California (1-13) and Washington State (0-14) round out the conference standings.

GOING POLLING: Six of the 18 opponents on the Cats' 2001-02 schedule were either ranked or receiving votes for ranking in the most recent polls.

In this week's Associated Press Poll, Stanford remains in the No. 2 spot, and Notre Dame moves back into the rankings for the first time in many weeks, now at No. 23. Washington, New Mexico and Arizona State all received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, Stanford is the only opponent ranked, also at No. 2. Notre Dame, New Mexico, Arizona State, Pepperdine and Washington were among the teams receiving votes for ranking.

CLOSE BUT...: Twelve of Arizona's 24 games this season have been decided by nine points or less, with eight of those being decided by five points or less.

CHECKING THE RECORD BOOK: Wildcat senior Elizabeth Pickney is among the Arizona career leaders in 16 different statistical categories. She recently became Arizona's career leader in blocked shots, now with 144. Pickney is second in career scoring (1579), second in free throws made (459), second in free throws attempted (596), second in field goals made (556), third in total rebounds (709), third in career rebounding average (6.1 rpg), third in games started (108), tied for third in scoring average (13.5 ppg), fourth in double-doubles (11), fourth in field goals attempted (1125) and fourth in free throw percentage (.770).

Julie Brase is third in career three-point percentage (.371), seventh in career three-pointers made (79) and seventh in three-pointers attempted (213). Aimee Grzyb is fourth in three-point percentage (.361), fourth in three-pointers made (92) and fifth in three-pointers attempted (255).

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 27 of their last 35 home games and are 49-13 on their home court over the last four seasons combined. During Joan Bonvicini's 11 seasons at Arizona, the Wildcats have posted a 114-48 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has a record of 180-156 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

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 30-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 140-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 100-14 when topping that 80-point plateau.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Cats have hit five or more 3-pointers in 17 of this season's 24 games... Arizona has had 15 or more assists in 14 games... The Cats have had 10 or more steals in nine games... Arizona has forced its opponent into 20 or more turnovers in 10 contests... The UA has scored 80 points or better in eight games.

KEYS TO THE WIN: This season, Arizona is... 6-0 when shooting 80% or better from the line... 6-3 when forcing more turnovers than it commits... 9-2 when leading at halftime... 11-5 when scoring 70 points or more... 10-4 when shooting better than its opponent from the free throw line... 12-6 when holding its opponent to 77 points or less.

BUT ON THE LOSING END...: The Cats are... 0-6 when giving up 80 points or more... 2-8 when shooting worse from the free throw line than the opponent... 2-9 when trailing at halftime... 3-8 when making fewer three-pointers than the opponent... 6-12 when shooting less than 80% from the line... 1-7 when scoring 69 points or less... 4-8 when three or fewer players reach double digits in scoring... 3-8 when shooting under 40% from the floor.

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