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Women's Hoops: UA ready for challenge with No. 4 Stanford

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior center Shawntinice Polk gets in the way of an ASU pass during 56-49 win against ASU Jan. 26 in McKale Center.
By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 3, 2005
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Things are not about to get any easier for the Arizona women's basketball team as it heads to Palo Alto, Calif., tonight to take on No. 4 Stanford.

The Cardinal are on a 10-game winning streak, with its most recent victory coming Saturday over Washington State, 69-56.

Arizona (15-6, 7-3 Pacific 10 Conference) was not as fortunate last weekend, as the Wildcats were defeated 84-77 in overtime by No. 20 Maryland in McKale Center in front of 3,316 fans and a national television audience.

UA head coach Joan Bonvicini said that while Stanford has been historically strong from the perimeter, this season the Cardinal have added quickness and depth to its lineup.

"I think in the past, they've been known more as a 3-point shooting team," she said. "When they had Nicole (Powell), everything went through her. She was that good. They could play her on the perimeter. They could play her as a post.

"Now with Candace (Wiggins), they're much more athletic and quicker on the backcourt," Bonvicini said.

The freshman guard Wiggins leads the Cardinal with 16 points per game, while junior center Brooke Smith and senior guard Kelley Suminski are contributing 13 and 12 points per game, respectively.

The Wildcats fell to Stanford on Jan. 9, 78-66, in McKale Center, a loss that snapped Arizona's 34-game home winning streak.

"Our quickness in the back court bothered them a little bit," Bonvicini said of the loss. "Dee-Dee (Wheeler) had a great game. I think we still didn't execute down the stretch. We had a lead and then they scored some big 3s."

Rebounding and offensive execution continue to be the focus of recent practices, Bonvicini said. In the Maryland loss, Arizona was out-rebounded 50 to 34.

"We're a better rebounding team than we're showing. We need to do a better job executing and still (improve) defensively," Bonvicini said. "We have to be real consistent particularly at this point of the season as we're really getting down the stretch here."

"We just got to keep the same energy level and intensity we had in the Maryland game and bring that same mentality into the Stanford game," said freshman guard Jessica Arnold. "What we've been working on in practice is executing offense and pressure defense.

"We have to do everything because Stanford is a great team. They've got shooters, they've got drivers, they've got everything. We're going to have to be able to defend that."

Sophomore forward-center Shannon Hobson, who has been out with a left knee injury, is listed as questionable for today's game.

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