Thursday’s win over No. 10 Oregon was enough to deem the weekend successful. But the Arizona Wildcats wanted more and they got just that on Sunday, Jan. 17 after cruising to a 67-51 win over Oregon State and sweeping the Oregon schools for the first time since 2011.
“To be able to beat Oregon the way we did Oregon State at home, it's really good because they're both really good teams,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “And they're both different. Oregon State is really tough to play against. They play at a really slow pace and for us, we want to run so it's two contrasting styles.”
Aari McDonald was the game's leading scorer but it was Helena Pueyo’s stellar-shooting from beyond the arc that stole the show. Pueyo scored 15 points, which tied her career-high in scoring, going 4-5 from three to go along with three assists and two steals. She was one of five Wildcats with at least two steals in the game.
“[Pueyo] is one of our best shooters,” Barnes said. “When people aren't guarding us, or sagging off of us because of our quickness, we need her to spread the floor … I've just talked to the team about her having the green light and how she can't pass up shots because we've run actions for her to get shots but tonight, she was actually taking them. What they say is always true. You got to take them to make them. You can't make them if you don't take them. So I want her to take them. She's a great shooter.”
The Wildcats started the game looking a bit hungover from its impressive win over No. 10 Oregon after allowing the Beavers to take an 11-2 lead to start the game. Fortunately for Arizona, Pueyo’s back-to-back three-pointers in the first quarter kickstarted the Wildcats’ offense and propelled them to a 40-26 lead at halftime.
“Without [Pueyo] doing what she did in the first quarter, we wouldn't have won the game,” Barnes said. “She got us going and then other people started making shots.”
It was all Arizona from there after McDonald scored 10 points in the second half and finished the afternoon with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. She was also efficient from beyond the arc, going 4-10 from three-point range.
Sam Thomas was perfect from the floor, going 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from three, ending the game with eight points, one assist, two steals and one block.
The Wildcats continued its defensive success and held the Beavers to 51 points and forced 19 turnovers after surrendering just 41 points to Oregon last Thursday.
“That's just Arizona defense,” freshman Lauren Ware said. “In the beginning, I would say we weren't really playing Arizona basketball or defense but now that we've been working on it in practice and stuff and coming together as a team, I think that our defense and our pressure has just been amazing and that's what has made these games so difficult for other teams. It's just been our defense that’s really kind of carried us through these past couple games so we're just going to keep doing that.”
Arizona is set to host Utah on Friday, Jan. 22, followed by Colorado on Sunday, Jan. 24, who comes to Tucson with a ton of momentum after its 77-72 upset-win over No. 1 Stanford on Sunday.
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