Five crucial numbers from Arizona women's basketball's WNIT Final Four victory
The Arizona women’s basketball team squared off and defeated the TCU Horned Frogs in a nail-biter Final Four game of the WNIT by a final score of 59-53. Here are 5 of the most important stats from tonight’s game:
The curtains were raised tonight at McKale as Arizona women’s basketball set a new record tonight with an attendance of 10,135. The previous record for the program was 8,442. It also marks the third-largest crowd in the Pac-12 conference all season.
“It makes all of us feel good … hearing [the crowd] cheer motivated us to go harder,” Aari McDonald said about “the largest crowd” she has ever played in front of, ever. “It feels amazing that the fans really want to come out and support us. Hopefully we can meet our goal for next game.”
Arizona hit seven 3s in the first half of the game, which contributed to 21 of their 29 first-half points. The Wildcats went 7 for 17 in the first half from beyond the arc, shooting 41 percent from deep. Five of the team’s seven first-half 3s came in the second quarter, and three of them came from sophomore star and leading scorer McDonald. On the other hand, the Horned Frogs only hit three 3s in the entire first half, as many as McDonald knocked down alone.
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The Wildcats only secured 15 rebounds in the first half, compared to the 27 by the Horned Frogs. Leading the Wildcats in rebounds were McDonald, who stands at 5-foot-7, and Tee Tee Starks, who each grabbed three in the first half. The poor performance on the glass for Arizona led to a measly four second-chance points in the first half out of the team’s 29 total points in the first 20 minutes of play.
“There were times and [the crowd] was loud and just energized, and that ignites us. That pumps our players up … You get pumped up when the crowd goes crazy, and it makes a difference,” Barnes said, despite getting out-rebounded 50-33 in the game.
Barnes and her crew only committed 10 turnovers throughout the 40 minutes of play. In the first two games of the season, the team averaged 20.5 turnovers. However, in the last 33 games, the Wildcats have averaged fewer than 14 turnovers, helping their recent success, especially in the WNIT Tournament. Tonight, the team had significantly fewer turnovers than their season average, giving them more control of the game. In fact, the Wildcats have the third-best turnover margin in the Pac-12.
Prior to the game, Arizona women’s basketball had not been to the WNIT Semifinals in 23 years – since 1996. That same year was Barnes' sophomore season as a player, when she led the team all the way to the championship game and WNIT title against the Northwestern Wildcats. The ‘Cats are looking to replicate what happened 23 years ago this month with a trip to the WNIT Championship game and victory against – you guessed it – Northwestern.
Barnes is taking a trip down memory lane as she faces off against the Northwestern on Saturday, but this time as a coach.
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“Playing five games gives us a lot of experience, because they’re pressure games: one and done. We are playing big games in front of big crowds. This is how the tournament will be, so it’s preparing us for that for the future,” noted Barnes.
Saturday's game is slated for noon in McKale and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
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