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Women's Hoops: Turnovers, fouls pull Cats from Pac-10 lead

By Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, February 16, 2004
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USC 68 UA 66

Women's hoops loses again, drops to third

Fouls and turnovers cost the UA women's basketball team another game on the road - barely.

Sophomore center Shawntinice Polk fouled out with nine minutes left, and 28 UA turnovers allowed Southern California to nip the Wildcats 68-66 yesterday in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

With the loss, the Wildcats (18-7, 10-4 Pacific 10 Conference) saw USC (14-9, 11-4) leapfrog them in the Pac-10 standings. Arizona falls to third place in the conference after Stanford beat California Saturday.

After what UA head coach Joan Bonvicini called a "horrible" performance in an 87-68 loss Thursday night at UCLA, she said the team looked much better yesterday.

"I thought we played very hard and we showed a lot of heart and pride," Bonvicini said. "I think it came down to a couple things: when Polkey fouled out, and too many turnovers. It's disappointing, though, to lose this game."

Arizona fell for the first time this season when outshooting its opponent. The Wildcats, who bested the Women of Troy 56 percent to 39 percent from the floor, were 17-0 on the season when they outshot their opponent from the field.

The Wildcats overcame 36 turnovers to beat USC 75-64 in McKale Center a month ago. But with the whistles going against Arizona yesterday, the Wildcats weren't able to pull another rabbit out of their hat.

Arizona was called for 22 fouls to USC's 10. Two of Arizona's leading scorers in yesterday's game, Polk (14 points) and sophomore guard Natalie Jones (18 points), fouled out.

"I told the team about opportunities," said Bonvicini of what she said to her players after the game. "You only get so many opportunities in your life and in a season, and you've got to seize them and not take them away from you. Now we have to regroup and get back."

The Wildcats shot 57 percent from the field in the first half to take a 30-27 advantage into halftime. Arizona was 14-0 on the season when leading at the half.

But USC opened the second on a 16-7 spurt to take a 43-37 lead.

After Polk fouled out for the sixth time on the road this season, Arizona hung tough, rattling off eight straight points to trim USC's nine-point lead to 61-60 with a minute and a half to play. But USC's Jessica Cheeks hit a 3-pointer with a minute left to put the Women of Troy up by four.

Arizona didn't get closer than three points in the final minute until junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler made a 3 as time expired. Wheeler led all scorers with 20 points.

"We had a number of opportunities to stay in first place, and we haven't done that, and that's disappointing," Bonvicini said. "But we just need to regroup and win our games at home."

The Wildcats are undefeated at home this season, but just 6-7 away from McKale. They play their final home games of the regular season Thursday against Oregon State and Saturday against Oregon.

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