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Surging women's hoops takes on Beavers

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA Freshman guard Jessica Arnold pulls up for a running jumper against Oregon earlier this season in McKale Center.
By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 17, 2005
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The Arizona women's basketball team enters the home stretch as it treks to the Northwest for its final road trip of the regular season to take on Oregon State today at 8 p.m.

With four regular season games remaining, the Wildcats (17-8, 9-5 Pacific 10 Conference) are tied for third place in the conference standings with ASU and Oregon.

While the Beavers (6-18, 1-13) have struggled of late, Arizona is cautious not to overlook tonight's opponent.

"They're coming in playing against us with everything," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "We have a lot to gain. We just have to look at them as a very good team and forget their record and just go out and play."

"Like Coach B. says, you really can't go in and just look at their record because any team can beat anyone on any given day," said junior guard Natalie Jones. "We got to take Oregon State first and then Oregon (Saturday)."

Jones said that Arizona will need to come prepared, as the Beavers typically do not draw large crowds.

"I remember that at Oregon State there's not a lot of fans," Bonvicini said of the atmosphere at Gil Coliseum. "You really have to generate your own energy and we learned - we had a really tough lesson at Cal - you've got to bring your own energy, your own intensity."

Arizona is coming off a home sweep of UCLA and Southern California last week. The Wildcats shot 69 percent from 3-point range on the way to an 87-74 victory against the Trojans Saturday.

Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler recorded a game-high 25 points with 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the year.

Junior center Shawntinice Polk notched 17 points, eight boards and two blocked shots, while Jones, the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week, had 15 points on 100 percent shooting and six assists.

The Beavers were defeated by Washington State Saturday for the first time in 13 meetings, 68-63.

Although Oregon State brought down 35 rebounds compared to WSU's 33, the Cougars hit 25-of-32 free throws in the win.

Beavers senior guard Shannon Howell finished with a game-high 21 points, marking the 10th time she has tallied more than 20 points this season.

Junior forward Karen Vickery added 11 points and six rebounds while fellow junior Mandy Close recorded 10 points.

On Jan. 22, Arizona defeated OSU 86-65 in McKale Center while narrowly out-rebounding the Beavers 36 to 34.

"We beat them here, but I felt we didn't do as a good a job," Bonvicini said. "Definitely, we didn't do a very good job rebounding-wise. It's going to be a very physical game. We have to come ready."

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