By Lindsey Frazier
CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman guard Jessica Arnold dishes out a pass in front of a Washington State defender during Arizona's 89-60 victory last night in McKale Center. The Wildcats will take on Washington at home on Saturday afternoon to finish out their season.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 25, 2005
Cats claw back into second place in Pac-10
Three Wildcats finished in double-digit scoring, and the Arizona women's basketball team pummeled Washington State 89-60 last night in McKale Center.
The Wildcats (19-9, 11-6 Pacific 10 Conference) find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the conference with ASU, Oregon and Southern California.
Junior center Shawntinice Polk tallied 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds against the Cougars (6-20, 2-15), despite battling a bum knee and a cold.
"I thought Polkey today rebounded as well (as she has)," said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini. "She looked like herself. When she's going to rebound and outlay the ball, it makes such a difference in our team."
Senior point guard Dee-Dee Wheeler notched 18 points, five assists and three steals, and junior guard Natalie Jones finished with 17 points and six assists.
"I just think we really put it away because we had Polkey dominate the boards. (It helped) us get a lot of transition buckets," Wheeler said. "We really like to run the transition, it ignites our offense."
Both teams exchanged baskets to begin the first half as freshman forward Che Oh hit a jumper six minutes into the game to put Arizona up 14-10.
"I think in the early part of the game, we were going back and forth and I didn't really like our intensity," Bonvicini said. "I thought we could play harder. And as we played harder and our defense started picking up ... then we started to pull away."
Later, Wheeler hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and make it a 22-20 game.
She followed with another shot from downtown, helping the Wildcats shoot 55.6 percent from 3-point range on the half.
The Wildcats headed into the locker room up eight points, 44-36.
Jones drained a trey more than two minutes into the second half and followed with a layup in Arizona's next possession to make it 55-38.
Later in the half, Wheeler nailed a shot from downtown to give her team a 20-point cushion, 67-47.
"We're a very good team when we're healthy," Bonvicini said. "I still want to dominate a little bit more on the boards. But I thought we took pretty much good, quality shots. I thought our intensity went up to another notch in the second half."
Arizona brought down 34 boards and committed 15 turnovers compared to the Cougars' 30 and 27, respectively.
Wheeler said the opposition fought hard until the end.
"Washington State has had a tough season, but they definitely have improved, and I think they are going to have a good team in the years to come," she said.
The Wildcats close out the regular season with senior night tomorrow against Washington at 4 p.m. in McKale Center.
The Huskies (12-15, 8-9) fell to ASU, 69-48, last night at Wells Fargo Arena.
"This is obviously a huge game with Washington," Bonvicini said. "For us there's a lot on the line: second place, either a two or three seed, depending on what other teams do. The worst we could be is a three seed with a win."
Jones said this victory helps prepare Arizona for the Huskies, as both teams play a similar style of basketball.
"They love to shoot the 3. They love to try to establish their inside game," she said. "This is just a good win for us tonight."