The Arizona women’s basketball team defeated No. 11 seed BYU 52-46 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday, March 24. This is the first time that the Wildcats have been to the Sweet 16 since 1998.
Arizona was led by their All-American Aari McDonald, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game.
“It’s always McDonald time, it's always 40 minutes McDonald time," head coach Adia Barnes said. "Great players shine at the right time; she hit big shots. She showed up, got stops and made big plays when she needed to, and that's what stars do. She stepped up at the right time when her team needed her and helped us find a way to win, and that's what great players do.”
If you like high-scoring basketball, this was not the game for you as both teams shot under 40% from the field. Arizona shot the ball 35.6% from the field and 26.3% from beyond the arc. "
"[McDonald] and the starters, or whoever was on the court, did a really good job taking our defense up a notch down the stretch," Barnes said. "We saw steals, [McDonald] converted on a couple steals, we found a way. I think it wasn’t our best game, but we did the necessary plays to win. That's all that matters. This is March, so everyone has a chance. It's one game. It’s survive and advance, and we did that today.”
Cate Reese had 12 points in the game but she had a huge third quarter, scoring eight points and hitting two big threes.
Things were looking bleak for the Wildcats who had several chances to control the game, but their poor free-throw shooting allowed BYU to keep it close. Arizona finished the afternoon shooting 38% (5/13) from the line.
With 5:12 left in the fourth quarter, Arizona fell behind by four points, Barnes called a timeout, and Arizona responded with a 13-3 run to finish the game and won by six.
“[Barnes] said we have this certain amount of time left, we are not losing," McDonald said. "Let's pick it up, play together and get stops. We took that to heart. We didn’t want to go home, and we applied that to the court and got a dub.”
Arizona is heading to their second Sweet 16 in program history to face Texas A&M Saturday, March 27 at 5 p.m. MST.
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