Five stats that mattered: Arizona women's basketball destroys USC
LAS VEGAS – Arizona women's basketball began day one of the Pac-12 Tournament with a bang, taking down USC 76-48 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Here are five key stats from the game that helped guide the 'Cats to victory.
19 points (x2)
Redshirt sophomore guard Aari McDonald went off for 19 points in the winning effort, sharing leading-scorer honors with teammate Cate Reese. McDonald could have gone for more, but head coach Adia Barnes pulled her star guard with just over six minutes to go in the game.
After a season that saw McDonald average 24.9 points a game, UA’s first team All-Pac-12 performer dictated the pace of play from the tip, contributing five assists and finding the right player on nearly every drive to the basket.
57.4 percent team field goal percentage
The Wildcats came out strong on offense in the first quarter, scoring 21 points and connecting on nearly 54 percent of their field goal attempts while playing tough man-to-man defense and holding the Trojans to under 40 percent shooting for the quarter.
It was all gravy from that point for the ‘Cats, as they dominated USC in the paint, outscoring the Trojans' 40-18 down low. To add insult to injury, the 'Cats also hit 50 percent of their 3-point attempts.
When Arizona has struggled this season, it’s usually been against teams with height and size. That wasn’t the case against the relatively smaller Trojan front court of Kayla Overbeck (6-foot-1) and Ja’Tavia Tapley (6-foot-3).
At half, the ‘Cats had out-rebounded the Trojans 23-15, turning extra possessions into points and opening up a halftime lead of 44-21. The second half was more of the same, as forwards Reese and Dominique McBryde led the way with 11 and seven rebounds, respectively.
18 team assists
The old basketball adage that “the ball moves faster than the man” was in full effect all game for the ‘Cats. Arizona took full advantage of USC’s inability to guard against the pick-and-roll, especially when McDonald and Reese were involved.
By comparison, the Trojans managed just five assists all game, a testament to the tough defense Barnes preaches as a staple of winning programs.
No. 8 seed
In 2017-2018, Barnes’ team finished second-to-last in the conference, rounding out the year with six wins and the No. 11 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. A 76-47 loss to rival ASU brought an abrupt end to the season. This year has been a much different story.
Although the 'Cats didn’t win the conference, or even finish in the top half, they did do enough to move into the No. 8 spot. That earned them to a matchup against a USC squad that, on paper at least, was similarly situated.
The result, a 76-48 Wildcat victory, may not have been indicative of the two teams’ seeding, but consider the alternative: opening the Pac-12 Tournament against a considerably higher ranked No. 6 or No. 7 team. In other words, the exact scenario Barnes and her team found themselves in last year.
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