Fourth-quarter surge pushes women's basketball to Sweet 16 of WNIT
Up until the fourth quarter, Arizona women’s basketball had been involved in a grind-it-out type of affair with Pacific University. In the final 10 minutes, however, the Wildcats put their feet down and outscored the Tigers 16-8, with the Tigers not scoring until there were three minutes left in the game.
As a result, the Wildcats beat Pacific 64-48 in front of 3,534 fans in McKale Center Sunday evening to move on to the third round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
“It wasn’t beautiful,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “I thought we played probably 28 minutes of really good basketball.”
After taking a backseat to teammate Cate Reese in the last game, redshirt sophomore Aari McDonald had a double-double of her own, posting 20 points and 12 rebounds. She was also three assists away from a triple-double.
Returning after a one-game absence due to illness was redshirt junior Dominique McBryde, who finished with 11 points and four rebounds. However, her presence goes far beyond the stat sheet, according to Barnes.
“She’s one of our smartest basketball players,” Barnes said. “She can guard a versatile post, she can guard a back-to-basket post, so she’s very valuable, and we need her to be successful and to have a chance to win this tournament.”
McBryde said moving on in the tournament is a great feeling, but the team still has work to do.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “This is what we’ve been working towards, being in the postseason and just really trying to change the program around."
After the first quarter, it looked as though the Wildcats were heading toward another comfortable WNIT win. McDonald finished the quarter with 10 points on 4-5 shooting, and the Wildcats took a 25-12 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter wasn’t as good to the ‘Cats, who were leading 35-29 at halftime. Some bad turnovers and fouls helped Pacific outscore Arizona 17-10 in the quarter and narrow the lead to six.
The third quarter was as tight as the first down, with the Wildcats leading 13-11, and it seemed as though the game was going to be tight-knit the rest of the way. Thanks to the strong fourth quarter, the Wildcats were able to beat Pacific and move on to the next round.
"We’re not done, we have a lot more basketball to play, and we’re just excited to be out there and play,” McBryde said.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to the third round of the WNIT, where they will host the University of Idaho at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, in McKale Center.
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