Arizona Women Cap the Weekend Facing UCLA

Jan. 16, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: After regaining sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 standings, the University of Arizona women's basketball team (13-4 overall; 5-1 Pac-10) will look to retain that spot when it faces UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 4 p.m. The date is also 'Pack the House Day,' as the Wildcats are looking to set a new school record for single game attendance in McKale Center. All tickets are $3 each, although UA students possessing a Zona Zoo Pass can get in for free. The contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: Surviving a rough-and-tumble matchup with USC on Thursday night, the Wildcats came out on top, 75-64, and improved their records to 13-4 overall and 5-1 in Pac-10 action. The Cats' 13-4 mark is the best record Arizona has had through the first 17 games of a season since the 2000-01 team went 14-3 over the same stretch.

The Wildcats have won 22 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and tied for the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation.

The Cats' loss at Stanford last weekend cost them a multitude of votes in both polls. After earning 22 votes last week, Arizona received just seven votes in the Associated Press Top 25 this week. The Cats also dropped from 52 votes to 28 votes this week in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler remains the Wildcats' top scorer, averaging 17.6 points per game. She is the team's assists leader as well, registering 5.0 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.1 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.2 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.5 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 7.9 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.4 per game.

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 22: With their win over USC on Jan. 15, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 22 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 31 of their last 38 home games and are 107-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 138-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 204-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Jan. 15, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.465), is second in scoring (73.5 ppg), second in scoring margin (+9.6 ppg), third in field goal percentage defense (.396), third in three-point percentage defense (.309), third in rebounding defense (33.2 rpg), third in rebounding margin (+5.1 rpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.35 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.65 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.2 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.561) and sixth in scoring (16.1 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.6 ppg), third in assists (5.00 apg), third in steals (2.59 spg), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.29) and 10th in field goal percentage (.472).

Natalie Jones is fourth in free throw percentage (.787), 10th in assists (3.06 apg) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.11). Aimee Grzyb is eighth in three-pointers made per game (1.65 pg) and 18th in scoring (10.5 ppg), while Danielle Adefeso is 17th in rebounding (5.4 rpg).

SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins dropped to is 8-7 overall and 3-3 in Pac-10 action after a 73-58 loss at Arizona State on Thursday night. That defeat ended a three-game winning streak for UCLA, which has had trouble putting together back-to-back victories this season.

Three UCLA players are averaging in double digits in scoring, led by sophomore guard Nikki Blue's 14.1 points per game. Freshman forward Noelle Quinn is second in scoring, at 12.3 ppg, and is the team's top rebounder, averaging 6.4 per game. Sophomore wing Lisa Willis is third on the scoring chart with an average of 12.0 ppg.

In her 11th season at UCLA, head coach Kathy Olivier (UNLV, 1983) has a 156-146 mark.

THE SERIES vs. UCLA: The Bruins also have a comfortable 35-15 lead in the series with Arizona, but the Cats have claimed four of the last five meetings with UCLA. Last year, Arizona defeated the Bruins, 80-61, in Tucson on Jan. 18, but UCLA returned the favor by slipping past the Cats, 48-47, on Feb. 14 in Pauley.

The Wildcats have a 9-16 all-time record when playing UCLA in Tucson. Arizona hasn't lost to UCLA at home since a 79-68 defeat by the Bruins on Feb. 20, 2000.

LAST MEETING WITH UCLA: Held to its lowest offensive output in four years, then-No. 24 Arizona was edged at UCLA, 48-47, on Feb. 14, 2003.

The game started off slow for both teams, but Arizona managed an 11-4 edge in the first seven minutes. Over the next 13 minutes, however, the Wildcats shot just 1-for-10 from the field, scored only seven points and committed eight turnovers. UCLA took advantage of the Cats' miscues and used a 19-7 spurt to gain a 23-18 lead at halftime.

The start of the second half seemed good for the Cats, as they began the period with a 15-4 run that put them up by six (33-27) with 14:13 to play. Arizona still held on to a five-point (43-38) edge with 9:10 to go, then the Cats fell into the same kind of slump they suffered in the first half. Over the final nine minutes of the game, Arizona shot just 2-for-10 from the floor.

The Cats did have a two-point (47-45) lead with 3:07 to play, but they gave up a bucket at 1:58, allowing UCLA to tie the game. Then Dee-Dee Wheeler fouled Bruin Gennifer Arranaga at 1:07, and Arranaga hit the second of her two free throw attempts, scoring what proved to be the game-winning point. Arizona had the ball with 11 seconds remaining, but a trey by Wheeler clanged off the rim, as the Cats shot a miserable 3-for-20 from three-point range in the game.

Wheeler finished with a game-high 16 points, including 14 in the second half alone, and logged four rebounds and a trio of steals. Shawntinice Polk was the only other Wildcat to reach double figures in scoring, registering her 17th double-double of the season with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Krista Warren added 10 rebounds and four steals.

ARIZONA HEAD COACH Joan Bonvicini: The winningest coach in Arizona women's basketball history, Joan Bonvicini has taken the Wildcat program from obscurity into the national limelight. In her 13 seasons at the helm of the Arizona program, Bonvicini has guided the Wildcats to seven post-season appearances, including five NCAA tournament berths and two in the WNIT.

Entering her 13th season with the Wildcats, Bonvicini holds a 227-143 (.614) mark at Arizona and is 552-214 (.721) in 23 years as a head coach. She has a career record of 23-15 in NCAA tournament play and has lost in the first round only once 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 122-100 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 98-52 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Cats will hit the road again for three straight games. Arizona will play at Oregon on Thursday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. PST, then the Wildcats will take on Oregon State in Corvallis on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. PST. The Cats will wrap up the road swing at Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m.

Arizona returns home during the first weekend in February to face Stanford (Feb. 5) and California (Feb. 7).

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- USC (Jan. 15): In a game that saw a combined total of 66 turnovers, the Wildcats survived a physical battle with USC and came out on top, 75-64, at home on Jan. 15.

Through the first seven minutes of the game, there were three ties and six lead changes before the Cats finally gained control of the contest with a 7-0 spurt that gave them a nine-point (24-15) edge at 9:57. Five minutes later, USC's own 13-6 run cut the Cats' lead to just two points (30-28) with 4:16 to go in the half. Arizona then scored 14 unanswered points to end the period and took a solid 44-28 lead into the break.

The Wildcats stretched their advantage to 19 points (49-30), their largest lead of the game, early in the second half, but the Trojans went on a 10-2 run that brought them back to within 11 (51-40) at 14:42. Arizona kept at least a double-digit lead through the next nine minutes, going ahead by as many as 16 at one point.

The Cats had a 14-point (69-55) lead with 5:05 to play, then committed nine turnovers as USC capitalized on the miscues and scored nine unanswered points to chop the lead to just five (69-64) with 1:12 to play. Arizona made two free throws and a pair of lay-ups down the stretch to preserve the victory, its 22nd in a row on its home court.

Dee-Dee Wheeler posted a game-high 20 points, with 17 coming in the first half, and snagged a team-best five steals. Shawntinice Polk shot 7-for-9 from the floor for the game, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Aimee Grzyb and Natalie Jones each added 11 points, with Jones tying her career-best by pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: The Cats are averaging eight more points in the second halves of this season's games than in the first halves. The Wildcats have been posting a first-half average of just 32.6 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 40.9 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 1.8 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.2 ppg in the second half of play.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL: Dee-Dee Wheeler's numbers through the first 10 games of this season were certainly nothing to scoff at. She posted averages of 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game, while shooting 43.7 percent (59-135) from the floor.

Yet, over Arizona's last seven games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last seven contests, she has averaged 21.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.6 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a blazing 51.3 percent (61-119) of her shots over the last seven games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in five of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in each of the last seven games.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.1 three-point field goals per game. The positive is that the 103 treys the Cats have allowed opponents to hit so far this season is still a lower number than this time a year ago. Through the first 17 games of last season, Arizona opponents had drained 111 three-pointers.

JONES-ING FOR THE PAC-10: Sophomore guard Natalie Jones' numbers have gone up significantly since the Cats started Pac-10 play. Against conference opponents, she is averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game. She is also shooting a hot 52.3 percent (23-44) from the floor in Pac-10 action.

By contrast, Jones' averages against non-conference opponents were 6.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and she made just 27.2 percent (22-81) of her field goal attempts.

STUFF THIS: With 125 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk is already in second place on the UA career list in that category. She could become Arizona's all-time blocked shots leader before this season is over, as she needs just 22 swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147. Polkey will join the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots even before taking over as Arizona's career leader -- she needs just 11 more blocks to tie for 10th on the conference career list (136).

AS DEE-DEE GOES...: So goes her team, or at least that's the way it has seemed since her arrival at Arizona. During Dee-Dee Wheeler's career, the Wildcats have gone 13-3 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 30-8 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 13 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 18.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and has hit 52.5 percent (93-177) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' four losses, Wheeler averaged 16.5 ppg and shot a miserable 35.1 percent (27-77) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 13-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 0-4 when shooting worse... 11-0 when tied or leading at the half, but 2-4 when trailing at halftime... 12-0 when giving up 69 points or less, but 1-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 10-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 12-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 9-1 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.

WE LIKE TO SCORE: During Joan Bonvicini's tenure at Arizona, Wildcat teams have won 73 games by margins of 20 points or more. Ten of those blowouts happened last season alone, and the Cats have logged five more 20-plus wins already this year.

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 32-year history of UA women's basketball, the Cats have posted a 153-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 113-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.

GOING POLLING: Seven of Arizona's 2003-04 opponents were either nationally ranked or received votes for ranking in this week's polls.

According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 7 and LSU is No. 14. Oregon and UC Santa Barbara were among the teams that received votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 7, and LSU is No. 14. UC Santa Barbara, Oregon, Washington, Oregon State and USC were all among teams that received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 387-435 (.471) all-time record, however it is 177-78 (.694) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 213-113 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have an 9-0 record at home, are 3-3 on the road and 1-1 in neutral contests. Last year, Arizona was 13-1 at home, 7-6 on the road and 2-2 in neutral games.

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