Adia Barnes and the Arizona women’s basketball team faced their first true road challenge of the season on Friday night in Boulder, Colorado and escaped with a 69-67 win thanks to a missed layup that rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Arizona entered the game 11-1 and faced a Colorado team that was 10-2, and both played up to the billing as the home team fought and clawed their way back from multiple double digit deficits throughout the first half to tie the game during the third quarter of the game, leading to a slugfest of a game that went back and forth during the fourth quarter.
During the frenetic third quarter, Arizona’s offense was unable to find a rhythm due to a combination of things, as the Wildcats partly became too dependent on the nations fourth leading scorer in Aari McDonald, but also being careless with fouls and turnovers, allowing Colorado to chip away at the lead with extra possessions and free throws.
Colorado came out of halftime a much more composed team than the one that was present for the opening tip, and quickly got back into the game thanks in part to a 26-14 3rd quarter that saw the Buffs awake the home crowd while sending Arizona reeling, searching for answers.
For Arizona, those answers were found, and the answer laid in the hands of sophomore McDonald who once again led all scorers with 32 points on 12-23 shooting while also registering eight steals with five rebounds and four assists for an all around performance that is worthy of it’s own paragraph.
Arizona answered Colorado’s comeback attempt, with McDonald carrying the visiting Wildcats on her back down the stretch with a crucial and-one conversion with just under two minutes left in the game to give the lead to the Wildcats. But it was Sam Thomas who put Arizona up for good 69-67 after picking up a loose ball and making a strong move to the basket that allowed her to layup the game winning shot off the glass.
For Arizona, the win is their 11th in a row and improves their record to 12-1 as the Wildcats look to finish off their mountain road trip by taking on Utah on Sunday. For Barnes and staff, they are wandering into uncharted territory as they build on their win over ranked ASU last week. After winning just six games last year, uncharted territory is a welcome change to the women’s program, who has turned themselves into the most entertaining basketball team in Tucson.
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