No. 24 Arizona Looks to Maintain Top Spot in Pac-10 with Trip to L.A.

Feb. 10, 2004

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WHAT'S HAPPENING: With just three weekends left in regular-season conference action, the 24th-ranked University of Arizona women's basketball team (18-5, 10-2 Pac-10) will be looking to maintain its tenuous hold in the top spot in the Pac-10 as it travels to Los Angeles this weekend. Opening a stretch that will see them play four of their final six regular-season games on the road, the Wildcats will play at UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. PST in historical Pauley Pavilion. Arizona will then face USC on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 12 p.m. PST in a contest that will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: After a sweep of the Bay Area schools at home last weekend, the Wildcats are 18-5 overall and 10-2 in Pac-10 play. The Wildcats' 10-2 conference mark is its best record ever through the first 12 games of Pac-10 play.

The Cats logged an 88-83 upset of then-No. 7 Stanford on Feb. 5 and followed that up with a 77-59 blowout of California on Feb. 7. That sweep, plus Stanford's loss at Arizona State on Sunday, moved the Wildcats into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 standings. Stanford is second at 10-3, followed by Arizona State (9-3) and USC (9-4).

Arizona is ranked No. 24 in this week's Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time since November that the Cats have been ranked in that poll. The Wildcats aren't even close to being ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, although their vote total did increase to 30 this week from last week's season-low of 17.

The Wildcats have won 25 games in a row at home, the longest home winning streak in the program's history and the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation. Texas has the longest streak, at 31 games before a Feb. 11 meeting with Texas A&M. Arizona's streak is trailed closely by Louisiana Tech, Utah and Western Illinois, each with 24 straight home victories.

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 4.7 per contest.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk is second in scoring, at 16.0 points per game, and is the top rebounder, grabbing 9.8 rpg. Senior guard Aimee Grzyb is third in scoring, averaging 10.7 ppg, followed by sophomore guard Natalie Jones with 8.6 ppg. Junior center Danielle Adefeso is the team's second-leading rebounder, averaging 4.7 per game.

#00 - Shawntinice Polk (C, 6-5, So., Hanford, Calif.)
#50 - Shannon Hobson (F/C, 6-2, Fr., Perris, Calif.)
#11 - Dee-Dee Wheeler (G, 5-6, Jr., Chicago, Ill.)
#13 - Aimee Grzyb (G, 5-7, Sr., San Jose, Calif.)
#23 - Natalie Jones (G, 5-10, So., Anchorage, Alaska)

#5 - CoCoa Sanford (F, 6-0, So., Inglewood, Calif.)
#15 - Anna Chappell (F, 6-1, So., Qualicum Beach, B.C.)
#30 - Jessica Duger (G/F, 5-10, Sr., Lake Havasu City, Ariz.)
#21 - Katrina Lindner (G, 5-6, So., Glengowrie, Australia)
#10 - Linda Pace (G, 5-9, Fr., San Diego, Calif.)
#25 - Rachael Schein (G/F, 5-11, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
#44 - Danielle Adefeso (C, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.)

POLKEY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Feb. 9): Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk was named the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 2-8.

Polk averaged 18.0 points, 16.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.5 blocks in a home sweep of Stanford and California last week. Polk also shot 16-of-30 from the floor (53.3 percent) and recorded her ninth and 10th double-doubles of the season.

In the 88-83 victory over No. 7 Stanford on Feb. 5, Polk shot 9-of-15 from the floor (60.0 percent), on her way to a team-high 21 points and career-high 19 rebounds. In the game, she recorded a double-double by half-time with 10 points and 13 rebounds. In the 77-59 decision over Cal on Feb. 7, Polk recorded 15 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocked shots and a game-and career-high eight assists. The eight blocks moved her career total to 139, placing her 10th all-time in the Pac-10.

The Player of the Week honor is Polk's sixth, her second this season and the 31st all-time selection for Arizona.

HOME WIN STREAK STANDS AT 25: With their win over California on Feb. 7, the Wildcats extended their school-record home winning streak to 25 games. The previous record was 15 games from Jan. 4, 1999, to Jan. 6, 2000. The Wildcats haven't lost a home game since suffering a close 78-71 overtime defeat by LSU on Nov. 22, 2002. Arizona has also won 17 straight Pac-10 games at home, with their last home conference loss coming to USC (71-64) on Feb. 16, 2002.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The Wildcats have won 34 of their last 41 home games and are 110-22 on their home court over the last seven seasons combined. Under head coach Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have posted a 141-50 mark in McKale Center. Arizona has an all-time record of 207-158 on its home court since the 1976-77 season.

ARIZONA IN THE PAC-10 STATS: Through games of Feb. 7, Arizona leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.458), is first in blocked shots (3.96 bpg), is second in scoring margin (+9.1 ppg), second in field goal percentage defense (.400), second in rebounding defense (33.3 rpg), tied for second in scoring (73.0 ppg), is third in rebounding margin (+5.0 rpg) and third in turnover margin (+2.65 topg).

Individually, Polkey is the Pac-10 leader in blocked shots (2.57 bpg), is second in rebounding (9.8 rpg), second in field goal percentage (.571) and fourth in scoring (16.0 ppg). Dee-Dee Wheeler is third in scoring (17.6 ppg), third in assists (4.74 apg), third in steals (2.61 spg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.28), seventh in field goal percentage (.476) and 10th in free throw percentage (.733).

Natalie Jones is second in free throw percentage (.821), while Aimee Grzyb is fifth in three-pointers made per game (1.68 pg) and 16th in scoring (10.7 ppg).

SCOUTING UCLA: Standing at 12-10 overall and 7-6 in Pac-10 play, the Bruins have won four of their last five games and are on a three-game win streak after sweeping Washington (64-59) and Washington State (78-57) on the road last weekend. UCLA is currently fifth in the conference standings.

Sophomore guard Nikki Blue leads UCLA in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game. She is closely followed by freshman wing Noelle Quinn, who is averaging 14.4 ppg and is grabbing a team-best 7.3 rebounds per contest. Sophomore wing Lisa Willis is the only other Bruin averaging in double digits, at 13.4 ppg. Both Willis and Blue are tied for second in rebounding, each pulling down 5.4 rpg.

In her 11th season at UCLA, head coach Kathy Olivier (UNLV, 1983) holds a 160-149 record with the Bruins.

THE SERIES vs. UCLA: Although UCLA has the 35-16 lead in the series with Arizona, the Wildcats have won five of the last six meetings with the Bruins, including a 70-54 victory in Tucson earlier this season.

The Wildcats are 6-19 all-time when facing UCLA in Pauley Pavilion, including a 48-47 loss there on Feb. 14 last season. The Cats last won at UCLA on Jan. 19, 2002, a 71-60 victory.

LAST MEETING WITH UCLA: A 20-5 second-half run propelled the Wildcats to a 70-54 win over UCLA at home on Jan. 17.

Both teams played an abysmal first half, with neither team gaining the upperhand through the first seven minutes of action. With the score tied at 12-12, UCLA used an 8-2 run to earn a seven-point (20-13) advantage with 11:30 to play. The Cats responded with their own 8-2 run to get back to within one point (22-21), then they went completely cold from the floor.

Over the final nine minutes of the half, Arizona shot a miserable 1-for-10 from the field and went the last 6:06 without scoring at all. UCLA held just a 27-23 lead at the break.

The Cats quickly erased their deficit at the start of the second half by scoring six unanswered points to take a 29-27 edge at 18:28. Arizona couldn't seem to shake the Bruins, though, and neither team led by more than three points over the next five minutes.

With the Wildcats holding onto a one-point (41-40) lead at 12:21, guards Katrina Lindner and Aimee Grzyb drained back-to-back three-pointers to fuel what would become a 20-5 Arizona run over the next seven minutes. The Cats took a 16-point (61-45) lead with 5:13 to play, and UCLA came no closer than 13 points for the rest of the game.

Shawntinice Polk finished with game highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. Dee-Dee Wheeler added 14 points and a game-high seven assists, while Grzyb contributed 13 points, with 11 coming in the second half.

SCOUTING USC: The Women of Troy are 12-9 overall and 9-4 in Pac-10 action after earning a split in Washington last weekend. USC defeated Washington State, 83-47, on Feb. 5, but was edged by Washington, 72-70, on Feb. 7. The Women of Troy will play host to Arizona State on Thursday before taking on the Wildcats on Sunday.

Averaging 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, senior forward Ebony Hoffman leads USC in both categories. Fellow senior Rometra Craig follows with a scoring average of 11.0 ppg, while sophomore guard Meghan Gnekow is the squad's second-leading rebounder, at 5.4 per contest.

In her seventh season at the helm of her alma mater's program, USC head coach Chris Gobrecht (USC, 1977) has a 90-104 mark with the Women of Troy. She is 422-307 in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.

THE SERIES vs. USC: The Women of Troy also have a 36-15 lead in the series with Arizona, but the Wildcats have taken five of the last six meetings with USC and the last three straight. Arizona registered a 75-64 win over the Women of Troy in Tucson earlier this season on Jan. 15.

The Cats have a 6-19 all-time record when playing at USC, including a 78-64 win there on Feb. 16 last year.

LAST MEETING WITH USC: 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 during the stretch.

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.

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 232-144 (.617) mark at Arizona and is 557-215 (.722) in 25 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 126-101 against Pac-10 teams, although they have an 102-53 mark against conference teams over the last eight seasons combined.

LOOKING AHEAD: Next weekend, the Cats will play their final home games of the season when they play host to the Oregon schools. On Thursday, Feb. 19, Arizona faces Oregon State at 7 p.m., then the Wildcats will take on Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. in a contest will be broadcast in Oregon on the Oregon Sports Network.

Arizona will close out regular-season play on the road the following week. The Cats will play at Washington State on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. PST, then they take on Washington on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m. PST. That contest will be broadcast live nationally on Fox Sports Net.

RECAPPING ARIZONA'S LAST ACTION -- CALIFORNIA (Feb. 7): Shawntinice Polk nearly logged a quadruple-double with 15 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and eight blocked shots to lead the Cats to a 77-59 win over California at home on Feb. 7.

The scrappy Bears stayed with the Cats through the first 10 minutes of the game, a stretch that saw five lead changes but no ties. With just a one-point (19-18) lead at 9:58, Arizona used a 12-2 run over the next six minutes to go ahead by 11 points (31-20). The Wildcats owned a solid 38-25 lead at halftime.

Arizona's momentum continued in the second half, as the Cats began the period with a 16-6 run that put them up by 23 points (54-31) at 12:35. The Wildcats still held a 23-point (59-36) advantage two minutes later, when the Bears scored 13 unanswered points, sparked by a trio of three-pointers, and cut the Cats' lead to just 10 points (59-49) with 8:26 left. The Wildcats out-scored Cal, 18-10, over the remainder of the game to push their home winning streak to 25 games.

In addition to Polk's output, Aimee Grzyb led the Cats with 16 points, while Dee-Dee Wheeler contributed 15 points, four assists and three steals. Shannon Hobson had nine points, and Natalie Jones put up eight points and seven rebounds.

#7 STANFORD (Feb. 5): One of the worst free throw shooting teams in the Pac-10 came up big when it counted, as the Cats used a 13-for-16 performance from the line in the final two minutes to exact revenge on No. 7 Stanford, 88-83, at home on Feb. 5. Arizona had been pounded by the Cardinal, 84-62, a month earlier in Palo Alto. The victory tied for the highest-ranked team the Wildcats have ever beaten, with a previous best win over then-No. 7 Washington (93-62) on Jan. 10, 1998.

The game was tight right from the outset, with six ties and four lead changes in the first 12 minutes of the contest. The Wildcats used an 11-3 run to gain an eight-point (30-22) lead with 3:46 left in the first, but Stanford countered with a 10-4 spurt that cut Arizona's advantage to just two points (34-32) at the break.

The Wildcats opened the second half with a 17-6 run that gave them a 13-point (51-38) lead, their largest of the game, with 14:40 to play. Fueled by All-American Nicole Powell, who had been held scoreless in the first half, the Cardinal out-scored the Cats, 20-7, over the next six minutes to tie the game at 58-58 with 9:40 remaining.

The two teams were still knotted at 62-62 with 6:30 left, when the Cats put on a 9-2 mini-run, getting six points from guard Natalie Jones during that stretch and gaining a seven-point (71-64) lead at 4:24. Stanford crawled back to within three points (73-70) at 2:20, but Arizona responded and pushed back out to a seven-point (77-70) lead with 1:16 to go.

Powell drained a three-pointer just 13 seconds later, bringing her team back to within four points (77-73). The Cardinal then began fouling to stop the clock, but the Cats responded by shooting 11-for-14 from the charity stripe in the final 58 seconds to keep Stanford at bay and to win their 24th straight home game.

Shawnintice Polk led the Wildcats with 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Dee-Dee Wheeler added 19 points, while Jones ended the game with 17. Aimee Grzyb had 13 points, and Shannon Hobson contributed 10 points, as all five Wildcat starters reached double digits in scoring for the first time this season.

POLK ON PACE TO BE FASTEST TO 1,000 POINTS: With 906 points through the first 54 games of her career, Shawntinice Polk is on pace to be the fastest Wildcat ever to reach the 1,000-point mark. She also could become the first Wildcat to break that plateau as a sophomore. If she maintains her current scoring average, Polk could reach that mark during the final regular-season game at Washington on Feb. 28, which would be a total of 60 career contests.

Former Cat and all-time leading scorer Adia Barnes (1995-98) currently has the distinction of being fastest to reach 1,000, reaching that mark in 61 games, the first contest of her junior season. Dee-Dee Wheeler is currently the second-fastest, gaining that mark in just 70 career games.

CLUTCH WHEN IT COUNTS: Although the Wildcats are struggling from the free throw line overall, making a miserable 67.8 percent of their charity shots for the season, they have been hitting them when it counts the most. In the final five minutes of action during this season's games, the Cats are shooting 75.2 (82-109) percent from the free throw line, including a solid 77.6 (45-58) percent in Pac-10 action.

GOTTA TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: Since entering Pac-10 play, the Wildcats' turnover average has gone through the roof. After averaging just 15.9 miscues per game in non-conference action, Arizona's average has gone up to 18.4 per contest in Pac-10 games. The Cats committed a season-high 36 turnovers in their win over USC at home on Jan. 15, the highest turnover total for an Arizona squad since the Wildcats had 36 at Arizona State on Jan. 17, 1998.

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 32.3 points per game. In the second half, the Cats have been averaging 40.7 ppg. While Arizona is out-scoring opponents by an average of just 1.7 ppg in the first half, the Wildcats have a scoring advantage of +7.4 ppg in the second half of play.

BEEN CAUGHT STEALIN': After registering a paltry 4.2 steals per game during non-conference play, the Wildcats lifted their average to a solid 10.8 thefts per contest in Pac-10 action. Dee-Dee Wheeler is leading the conference with 3.3 steals per game in Pac-10 play.

POLKEY SOON TO JOIN ARIZONA SCORING LEADERS: Owning a career total of 906 points, Shawntinice Polk could join the ranks of scoring leaders at Arizona as early as this Thursday's game at UCLA. She needs just 17 more points to tie former teammate Krista Warren for the No. 20 spot with 923 career points.

Polk is already among the career leaders in rebounding, currently standing seventh with 561 career boards.

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 13 games, Wheeler has raised her performance another notch. In the last 13 contests, she has averaged 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 steals per game. The most notable difference has been in her shooting -- she has hit a hot 50.2 percent (101-201) of her shots over the last 13 games, shooting 53 percent or better from the floor in seven of those contests. Wheeler has scored 19 points or more in 10 of the last 13 games.

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 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She is also shooting 42.4 percent (36-85) from the floor and 82.5 percent (52-63) from the line 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 139 career blocked shots, sophomore Shawntinice Polk is already in second place on the UA career list in that category. She should become Arizona's all-time blocked shots leader before this season is over, as she needs just eight swats to match the current career leader, Elizabeth Pickney (1999-2002), with 147.

With her eight blocks against Cal on Feb. 7, Polkey joined the Pac-10 career top 10 in blocked shots and currently stands in the No. 10 spot with 139. She will need to surpass Pickney's numbers to move up to No. 9 on the Pac-10 list, the spot that Pickney's performance currently holds.

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 14-4 when she has reached the 20-point mark in scoring. At the same time, the Wildcats are 33-9 when she scores 15 points or more.

In the Cats' 18 wins this season, Dee-Dee Wheeler has averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and has hit 51.3 percent (123-240) from the field. However, in the Wildcats' five losses, Wheeler has the same scoring average (17.6 ppg), but she has shot a miserable 38.5 percent (37-96) from the floor.

LOOKING AT THE TRENDS: This season, Arizona is... 17-0 when shooting better than its opponent from the field, but 1-5 when shooting worse... 14-0 when tied or leading at the half... 16-1 when giving up 69 points or less, but 2-4 when allowing 70 points or more... 14-0 when scoring 70 points or more... 16-1 when shooting 40% or better from the field... 13-2 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.

LONG-RANGE DEFENSE?: The Wildcats are allowing opponents to drain a rather high average of 6.3 three-point field goals per game this season. While the Cats limited nonconference opponents to just 28.3 percent (54-191) shooting from beyond the arc, they have allowed Pac-10 teams to make 35.7 percent (89-249) of their three-point attempts. Arizona has allowed more three-pointers in conference action than any other Pac-10 team.

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 154-21 record when scoring 80 points or more in a game. Under Joan Bonvicini, the Wildcats have gone 114-14 when topping the 80-point plateau.

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

According to the Associated Press poll, Stanford is No. 11 and LSU is No. 16. Arizona State and UC Santa Barbara were among teams receiving votes for ranking.

In the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll, Stanford is No. 11, and LSU is No. 16. Arizona State and USC both received votes for ranking.

CAT SCRATCHES: The Arizona women's basketball program has a 392-436 (.473) all-time record, however it is 182-79 (.697) from the 1996 season to present... Joan Bonvicini has a 218-114 career record against Pac-10 teams.

ON LOCATION: This season, the Wildcats have a 12-0 record at home, are 5-4 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.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR MAKES SPECIAL APPEARANCE AT CAL GAME: In conjunction with the celebration of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, Arizona governor Janet Napolitano was a 'guest coach' on the Wildcat bench at the home game against California on Saturday, Feb. 7.

As a guest coach, Governor Napolitano sat on the Arizona bench during the game and was in the locker room with the team both before and after the contest. She also served as the honorary Master of Ceremonies for the halftime celebration of National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

Napolitano previously served as a guest coach last season during the Cats' 80-50 blowout of Washington State on Feb. 8, 2003.

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