Women's Basketball Notes: Pac-10 Tournament Championship Game
March 10, 2003
WHAT'S HAPPENING: Still rolling and on a six-game win streak, the 22nd-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (21-7 overall) has advanced to the championship game of the 2003 State Farm Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament. In the finals on Monday, Mar. 10, the No. 3 seeded Wildcats will take on the top seed and No. 9-ranked Stanford Cardinal at 7:30 p.m. PST in HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. This is the second time in 12 days that Stanford and Arizona have faced one another.
The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net, and the winner of this game will earn the Pac-10's automatic bid to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. If the Wildcats win this one, it will mark their first conference tournament title and will be the first time in the program's history that Arizona has earned the league's automatic bid.
SCOUTING ARIZONA: Standing at 22-7 overall, the Wildcats extended their win streak to six games with a 74-51 blowout of No. 3 seed and 25th-ranked Washington in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament on Sunday. The win streak is the Cats' longest of the season and is the longest the UA has had since winning seven in a row midway through the 2000-01 season. The Wildcats have won each of their last six games by spreads of 14 points or more.
Arizona has logged its first 20-win season since 2000-01, and this is the first time the Cats have reached 22 wins since the 1999-2000 squad won a school-record 25 games.
With averages of 17.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, freshman center Shawntinice Polk continues to lead Arizona in both categories. With a school-record 20 double-doubles on the season, Polk has also set new school records for single-season rebounding (310), single-season blocked shots (76) and freshman scoring (519 pts). After surpassing the 500-point plateau against Washington on Sunday, Polk has become only the seventh player in the program's history to reach the 500-point mark in one season.
Sophomore guard Dee-Dee Wheeler is second in scoring, with 16.6 ppg, and is third in rebounding, with 4.7 rpg. Senior forward Krista Warren is second in rebounding, averaging 7.0 boards per game, and is third in scoring (11.8 ppg). Junior guard Aimee Grzyb is fourth on the scoring chart, at 10.8 ppg.
QUICK HIT - ABOUT THE STREAK: Arizona's average margin of victory during its current six-game win streak has been 17.2 points per game. The Cats have also outscored opponents, 101-54, from the free throw line during that six-game stretch, making an average of almost eight more free throws per game than their opponents.
SCOUTING STANFORD: Ranked No. 9 in this week's AP Poll and No. 8 in the WBCA/ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, No. 1 seed Stanford improved to 25-4 on the year with a close 69-64 win over No. 4 seed UCLA in the semifinals on Sunday. The Cardinal have won three games in a row and six of their last seven, with their only loss in that stretch coming at Arizona on Feb. 27 (79-64).
Posting averages of 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, junior forward Nicole Powell leads Stanford in both categories. Sophomore guard Kelley Suminski is second in scoring, averaging 11.6 ppg, followed by sophomore forward Azella Perryman (9.6 ppg) and sophomore center Chelsea Trotter (9.3 ppg). Perryman is the team's second-leading rebounder, grabbing 7.2 boards per game.
In her 17th season with the Cardinal, head coach Tara VanDerveer (Indiana, 1975) has a 421-109 record at Stanford. She has a career mark of 573-160 in 24 years as a head coach.
THE SERIES vs. STANFORD: The Cardinal have a strong 34-11 lead in the series with Arizona and have won seven of the last 11 meetings with the Wildcats. The two teams split their series this year, with Stanford winning on its home court (82-74) on Dec. 29 and Arizona taking the Feb. 27 contest in Tucson (79-64). The Cats' win over Stanford on Feb. 27 ended a four-game losing skid to the Cardinal and was the largest margin of victory for Arizona since it defeated Stanford by 16 (75-59) on Mar. 8, 1986, in Palo Alto.
LAST MEETING WITH STANFORD: Shooting 15-for-16 from the line in the final two minutes of the game, Arizona pulled off a 79-64 upset of No. 9 Stanford at home on Feb. 27.
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.
RECAPPING THE WASHINGTON GAME: Using stifling defense and a 53.6 percent shooting performance from the floor, Arizona drilled No. 25 Washington, 74-51, in the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament on Sunday.
The Wildcats got off to a solid 9-3 start in the game, but Washington responded with an 11-0 run to gain a five-point (14-9) advantage at 12:18. The Cats recovered to put on a massive 22-5 run over the remainder of the period to hold a 31-19 lead at the break. Arizona held Washington to just two points in the final eight minutes of the first half.
The Cats didn't let down at the start of the second half, either. They opened the period with a 10-3 spurt that extended their lead to 19 points (41-22) with 15:47 to play. The Huskies made a brief 11-6 run to get back to within 14 points (47-33) at 13:19.
The spread was just 15 points (54-39) at 10:06, then Arizona went on another 13-2 run to stretch its lead to 26 points (67-41) with 6:43 left to play. The Cats went on to log a 74-51 win over the Huskies, their largest margin of victory over Washington since 1999.
Shawntinice Polk shot a blazing 10-for-13 from the floor on her way to a game-high 22 points and six rebounds. Krista Warren added 14 points and six rebounds, and Dee-Dee Wheeler had 15 points and a game-high-tying seven boards.
LOOKING AHEAD: 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.
GETTING IT DONE: After a 12-game stretch that saw her average just 8.9 points per game, Krista Warren has really stepped up her production over the last four contests, averaging a solid 15.0 points per contest. Against Oregon State on Saturday, she reached the 20-point mark for the first time since scoring a career-high 25 points at Stanford on Dec. 29.
TAKING DOWN THE RANKED TEAMS: The Wildcats have beaten four ranked teams this season, the most wins over Top 25 teams since beating four ranked squads in 1997-98.
LOVE THOSE TV GAMES: Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 12 of its last 16 televised contests. The Wildcats were 6-0 in televised games last season but are just 6-4 on TV this year.
WILDCATS WIN PAC-10 AWARDS: Shawntinice Polk has been named the 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, marking the second year in a row that a Wildcat has earned that award. Polk was also named to the All-Pac-10 Team and to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. Dee-Dee Wheeler was selected to the All-Pac-10 Team for the first time in her career, and Natalie Jones was honorable mention Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
CATS BREAK SCHOOL BLOCKS RECORD: As a team, the Wildcats have set a new school record for single-season blocked shots, with 114. The old record was 102 set by the 2000-01 squad.
AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, and that's definitely the way it's been since January. Over the Cats' last 13 wins, Dee-Dee Wheeler averaged 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and shot 48.4 percent (92-190) from the field, including 38.5 percent (20-52) 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.
LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: The Wildcats are 16-2 this season when out-rebounding their opponents... They are 5-5 when being out-rebounded... The Cats are 21-4 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 22-3 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 8-5 when three or fewer players get to double figures... The Wildcats are 11-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
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 (317-503) from the stripe and have shot better than 60 percent in only 14 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 67.4 percent (176-261) of their free throws over the last 13 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 24 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.
CAT SCRATCHES: In Pac-10 play, Arizona gave up an average of 8.3 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 374-426 (.468) all-time record, however it is 178-90 (.664) from 1994 to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 208-111 career record against Pac-10 teams.
ON LOCATION: The Wildcats are 13-1 in home games, 7-6 on the road and 2-0 in neutral contests this season. Last year, Arizona was 9-6 at home, 5-7 on the road and 0-1 in neutral games.