SAN ANTONIO, TX – Facing a daunting task to try and knock off UCONN, the Arizona Women’s Basketball team controlled the game from the top to advance.
History is made! Led behind Aari McDonald’s 26 points and seven rebounds, Sam Thomas also added with 12 points and five rebounds, and Cate Reese finished her day with 11 points and three steals as the Arizona Women’s Basketball team (21-5, 13-4) scored the massive, 69-59 win over the UCONN Huskies.
Coming in, we heard all week how the Wildcats didn’t have a chance, the Huskies were too good, too deep, too talented, Arizona doesn’t have the tournament experience UCONN has… barf!
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Despite the numerous storyline already writing off the Wildcats, Arizona head coach Adia Barnes seemed to preach to her team about silencing the doubters.
As if Arizona needed any more motivation playing in their first Final Four, the NCAA Women’s Basketball social media page created a bit more motivation for the Cats as they omitted Arizona in their Final Four promo video.
From the start, the Wildcats were electric, starting the game on a 9-3 run. Continuing to play with a spark, Arizona would bring the pressure to UCONN in the first quarter, ending the quarter with a 16-10 lead.
The Wildcats would continue to pour it on in the second quarter too! Beginning the quarter on a 12-6 run, Arizona would lead by as many as 12 before the Huskies would close in on Arizona just before the half before the Wildcats would ultimately shut the door, leading 32-22 at the half.
Just 20 minutes away from earning a bid to the National Championship, Arizona Women’s Basketball would need a strong second half.
Fresh off a win in which UCONN went on a 19-0 run to knock off Baylor just days prior, Arizona would need to whether another possible UCONN run in the second half.
Luckily for us, the Wildcats were ready, continuing to use stifling defense and a complete effort on the offensive side of the ball. Despite getting outscored in the third quarter 17-16, Arizona would still lead 48-39 to enter the fourth.
Leading by nine with 10 minutes to play, Arizona would lean on their experienced players, especially as the fouls added up and UCONN cut into the Wildcats’ lead.
UCONN would get Arizona’s lead down to just five points with over a minute to play, but that was after the Wildcats extended their lead to 12, beginning the quarter on a 5-2 run.
However, in the end, it didn’t seem to matter too much as the Wildcats were just too strong for the Huskies from start-to-finish, coming away with the 69-59 win and advance to their first NCAA Championship in program history.
Arizona will square off with Pac-12 foe the Stanford Cardinal on Sunday afternoon in San Antonio. Doubters or not, the Wildcats will be ready!