The Arizona women’s basketball team won a nail-biter on the road on Friday, Feb. 19 against California Golden Bears 59-50.
The Wildcats only shot 37% from the field but another dominant performance from Aari McDonald carried them to the win and escaped the potential trap game. McDonald led the team in scoring with 28 points and shot the ball 11-23 from the field and 1-4 from the three-point line.
“If [McDonald] wouldn’t have been scoring and creating shots of her own, we wouldn’t have won,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “[McDonald] had to put us on her back.”
The rest of the team struggled mightily as Trinite Baptiste was the only other Wildcat to score double-digit points in the game, putting up 11 points and six rebounds.
“I’m very disappointed,” Barnes said. “It’s our worst game of the season.”
Arizona dominated Cal in the turnover battle, forcing The Golden Bears into committing 18 turnovers. Arizona only turned the ball over six times but if you ask head coach Barnes, she’ll tell you it felt like much more.
“We had six turnovers and it felt like we had 20,” Barnes said. “It just was not a good game.”
Turnovers were pretty much the only stat Arizona dominated in as the Wildcats certainly did not have a good game inside the glass. On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona had 19 defensive rebounds and California had 26 defensive rebounds. California doubled Arizona on the offensive glass 14-7 and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-26.
“In the post, they outrebounded us 28 to nine, that’s not okay,” Barnes said. “We have to get better. We played a really bad game.”
If you are a fan of high scoring and field goal percentage, this was not the game to watch.
Arizona shot the ball at a clip of 37% (21-57) and 20% (3-15) from the three. California shot the ball worse, shooting 36% (18-50) from the field and 1-12 from three.
A terrible night of shooting and rebounding was all erased in the fourth quarter when Arizona took control of the game with its defense.
Arizona held Cal to just seven points on 2-11 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to take pride in our defense,” McDonald said. “They can’t score on us.”
Arizona might have escaped the potential trap-game but they certainly didn’t escape the postgame criticism from head coach Barnes, who described the team’s performance as “uncharacteristic” and “soft.”
“I think we’re on a seven-game winning streak. I’m not satisfied, though,” Barnes said. “It’s not about winning to me. If we want to do something special, it’s about the way we play and the way we perform. I think the disappointing thing about today is it’s not about the X’s and O’s because we had a game plan. We didn’t execute the game plan, which is uncharacteristic for us. They usually do a really good job of doing what we set out to do. The things that concern me are the 50/50 balls, the passion plays, the getting out-hustled for rebounds, the boxing out. It does not take athleticism to box out. It does not take a tremendous amount of skill. It takes effort, focus and a mentality and we didn’t have that mentality. We were very soft.”
Arizona is set to play in what might arguably be its most important game of the season when it travels to Stanford on Monday, Feb. 22. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and will be televised on ESPN2.
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