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Women enter 3-game homestand to end season

By Lindsey Manroel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday Feb. 14, 2002

Women's hoops prepare for UCLA, Southern California this weekend

The Arizona women's basketball team is not approaching tonight's game with a high level of confidence, even though it has already defeated UCLA once this season.

That's because the Wildcats realize there's a lot more riding on tonight's home game - which begins a three-game, season-ending homestand - than there was Jan. 19 in Pauley Pavilion.

"Particularly now, with the conference tournament approaching, (tonight's game) gives everyone added incentive to win," UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said. "We want to improve our seed. There's so much more on the line now."

If Arizona (12-12, 8-7 Pacific 10) hopes to pull itself out of its seventh place conference standing before the tournament, it must pick up a pair of wins this weekend, Bonvicini said, and will try to do so with the return of two key players.

Bonvicini said to look for both junior forward Krista Warren and senior center LaKeisha Taylor - both of whom suffered sprained ankles recently - to suit up and contribute off the bench.

Warren, who was absent in UA's last four games with a sprained ankle that she suffered during a Jan. 29 practice, returned to action Monday.

"(My ankle's) okay; it's just sore," Warren said. "They're going to get me in there for a few minutes to give me some playing time."

Taylor was forced to watch the Wildcats blow by Washington State, 106-60 from the bench after she sprained her ankle during Saturday's practice.

Although the Bruins (7-16, 3-11Pac-10) have notched two wins in their last four games, their season has been anything but kind.

UCLA suffered a 71-58 loss to rival USC on Saturday, its second defeat of the season at the hands of Trojans.

No Bruins are averaging more than 10 points per game on the season. Sophomore forward Whitney Jones leads the team at 9.1 points per game.

Arizona's leading scorer, senior forward Elizabeth Pickney, almost doubles Jones' average with 17.1 points per game.

The Wildcats' most recent win in Los Angeles marked their second consecutive win over UCLA.

Sophomore guard Aimee Grzyb's career-high 19-point performance led to Arizona's 71-60 victory over the Bruins, which completed its first sweep in Los Angeles in four years.

While Warren's recent injury may hamper her ability tonight in comparison to her 15 points and game-high 10 rebounds she racked up last time against UCLA, the junior's ankle will not affect Bonvicini's decision to get her in the game.

"We'll get her some minutes," Bonvicini said.

Southern California will be a different story entirely as the Trojans are coming off three victories in their last four games.

The Trojans (13-10, 9-5 Pac-10) are relying on large numbers from sophomore guard Aisha Hollans, who leads Southern California in scoring with an average of 17.5 points per game and is second in rebounding, grabbing 6.4 boards per game.

If Arizona were to rely on recent successes, the Wildcats would have nothing to worry about after winning 10 of the last 13 games against the Trojans.

The Wildcats defeated Southern California earlier this season, 78-74, but the Trojans were missing three starters due to injuries and suspensions.

Their absences allowed Taylor to convert two free throws with five seconds remaining to give Arizona its first Pac-10 road win since Jan. 6, 2001.

Ignoring what challenges both teams will bring to McKale Center, Bonvicini said her team has to focus on the little things, primarily moving the ball on offense and attacking on defense.

Warren said the team can't go into the weekend expecting another sweep.

"We have the confidence, knowing we've done it once already," Warren said. "But we have to treat them like any team we've played. We can't let too loose."

Tonight's game tips off at 7, followed by a 2 p.m. showdown Saturday in McKale Center.


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