Wildcat women win share of Pac-10 crown

Holding one of the conference's most potent offenses to just four points in the final five minutes, the University of Arizona women's basketball team knocked off Washington, 71-54, in Seattle on Saturday and won a portion of the program's first regular-season Pac-10 championship. The victory was also Arizona's first in UW's Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

With Shawntinice Polk scoring eight of the Cats' first 10 points, Arizona jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. During that stretch, at the 13-minute mark, Polk became the fastest Wildcat to reach the 1,000-point plateau, doing so in just 60 career games. She is also the first Arizona sophomore ever to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Washington got things moving offensively midway through the first half, using an 11-7 spurt to slash the Cats' lead to two points (22-20) with a little more than five minutes left in the half. Just under the three-minute mark, the Huskies drained a three to get to within one point (26-25). However, Arizona out-scored Washington 8-3 over the remainder of the period to take a 34-28 lead into the break.

Arizona began the second half with an 11-2 run that gave the Cats a 45-30 lead in the first three minutes of the period. Washington then scored nine unanswered points to pull back to within six (45-39), but the Wildcats responded with an 11-4 spurt that pushed their lead to 13 points (56-43) with just over eight minutes left in the game.

The Huskies scored five straight points from the free throw line to get back to within eight (56-48), but back-to-back buckets from Polk put Arizona back in control of the game. The Cats out-scored Washington, 11-4, over the last five minutes of the contest as they rolled to their fourth consecutive win.

At some point late in the first half, senior guard Aimee Grzyb became Arizona's career leader in minutes played, now with 3723 career minutes. She surpassed Regina Grennan's (1987-90) total of 3700.

Polk finished with game highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds for her 36th career double-double, tying the school record for most career double-doubles. Junior guard Dee-Dee Wheeler added 17 points, while Grzyb had 15 points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward CoCoa Sanford racked up 11 points and a career-high nine rebounds.

The Wildcats now await the outcome of the rest of the weekend's games to find out who they will play in the first round of the third annual Pac-10 Conference Tournament in San Jose, Calif., next weekend. All 10 teams will participate, and games run from Mar. 5-8. The Cats will receive a first-round bye and will play their first game on Saturday, Mar. 6. Seedings, pairings and game times will be announced at approximately 6 p.m. MST on Sunday, Feb. 29.

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