The Arizona women's basketball team came into the game against their hated rival ranked No. 9 in the country and with a 13-3 conference record. Arizona State came in with a conference record of 5-9, and most recently lost to a previously winless California team. None of that mattered as the Sun Devils beat the Wildcats 66-64 in overtime in Tempe.
“They wanted it more,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “They took it from us. They played harder. They just totally outplayed us and deserved to win the game.”
ASU had a stellar offensive performance thanks to Taya Hanson and Katelyn Levings, who started off the game with six points each to pace the Sun Devils early on and give them some confidence to stay in the game. Hanson ended the game with 19 points, which led the Sun Devils overall.
“We could not stop their stagger action, which I don’t know why because we guard that a lot,” Barnes said. “We let them shoot 46% from the two. We won’t win games like that.”
For Arizona, it was all about Aari McDonald and she got started from the opening tip and didn’t slow down all game. McDonald immediately scored seven of her 30 points in the first quarter. Bendu Yeaney and Trinity Baptiste were also able to get on the board early-on but it was few and far between for anyone that wasn’t named McDonald.
McDonald finished the game shooting 10-19 shooting to go along with four rebounds, one assist, one block and six steals.
Yeaney was also able to get into double-digits, but she was the only other Wildcat that did. Her final stat-line was 14 points on 4-8 shooting, while also having four rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals.
A big issue was the passing. The fact that McDonald only had one assist should be alarming to Wildcat fans. Overall, Arizona only had seven total assists as a team, but they scored 23 baskets total.
Another big issue was the bench. Helena Pueyo was out with an injury and no one else stepped up to fill the production void. Only three players from the bench even saw the court, and only one, Shaina Pellington, got a shot off. She went 0-1 and she accounted for the underwhelming production by the bench.
“Other people have to step up and do their jobs,” Barnes said. “I thought that we forced a lot down the stretch. We took bad shots.”
Arizona relied on McDonald too much in the game. For anyone not named McDonald, the total baskets scored was 13. McDonald had a great game shooting over 50% and her teammates still disappeared, only connecting at the basket around a third of the time.
“We can’t only rely on [McDonald],” Barnes said. “I can’t run every offense for [McDonald], but I think down the stretch, we can’t then force shots because we haven’t touched the ball … . We need [Cate Reese] to be a scorer. We need [Baptiste] to finish around the basket.”
Yeaney mirrored Barnes’ thoughts by emphasizing that their post players needed more touches to be successful.
“Our post players didn’t get that many touches this game, and we need our post players to score,” Yeaney said. “I think [Baptiste] only got eight shots. We got to get her more. [Lauren Ware] didn’t get any shots this game and we got to get her more. Everybody, especially when we have a player out, everybody needs to step up. Today, only a couple players stepped up when we needed the whole team.”
This was the culmination of a rough three-game stretch for Arizona that saw them sleep-walk through a bad California team, not muster enough offense against Stanford and now a collapse against their hated rival.
Not exactly the best time to be slumping right before the Pac-12 tournament, which starts on Wednesday, March 3.
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter