Whether you’re a Tucson native, an Arizona alum or an Arizona student, chances are you’ve seen at least one of UA’s sports teams play. And over the last five years, there has been plenty of heartache but we won't dive into that today.
Instead, we'll look on the bright side and countdown a list of the top 10 moments in UA sports since 2014.
An argument can be made for many other moments/games to be included on this list, but this ranking aims to include moments from a variety of sports that had a lasting impact.
By no means is this a definitive ranking, so if you’ve got your own suggestions, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. “A grown man’s move” (2017)
Arizona versus UCLA in men’s basketball is always a sight to see, but this one meant more. Less than 24 hours prior to the biggest game of the season to that point, it was announced UA guard Allonzo Trier would return to the court after being suspended the first 19 games for a positive PED test.
Trier, arguably one of the best scorers in college hoops at the time, lifted No. 14 Arizona to an 96-85 upset of No. 3-ranked UCLA in Pauley Pavilion with 12 points in the nationally broadcasted game.
With Arizona leading by five points with seven minutes to go, Trier got a two-on-one pass from Kobi Simmons and slammed home a ferocious dunk leading to CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle calling it “a grown man’s move to the rim.” The dunk emphatically marked the return of a budding college star and a team with Final Four aspirations.
Trier played the rest of the season for the top 10-ranked Wildcats, leading them to another a Pac-12 Tournament Championship and a Sweet 16 appearance.
9. “Guard Who?” (2017)
Dec. 30, 2017. That was supposed to be the day ASU men’s basketball dethroned Sean Miller and the Wildcats. The No. 3-ranked Sun Devils were the talk of college hoops in the non-conference portion of the season, jumping out to an unprecedented 12-0 start and knocking off No. 2 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse along the way. The Sun Devils even branded themselves as “Guard U,” a knock at the UA’s “Point Guard U” theme.
Meanwhile, Arizona entered the year ranked No. 3 in the preseason polls, bolstered by the arrival of top recruit – and future No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick – Deandre Ayton but suffered three straight losses in November to briefly fall out of the top-25 poll.
The rivalry game in McKale Center was dubbed as the chance Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils could prove they were the new force in the state of Arizona. Miller and company had other plans. The No. 17-ranked Wildcats led for the majority of the game, and Ayton couldn’t be stopped, as the 7-footer poured in 23 points and 19 rebounds, with an and-one dunk to put Arizona up double digits with four minutes left and then a tip-in with under 30 seconds to put the ‘Cats up four, securing an 84-78 win.
From then on, the Sun Devils would not regain their non-conference magic, losing nine of their next 17 games and dropping a First Four game in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona went on to win the Pac-12 Championship for the second-consecutive season.
After eight long seasons – with heartbreaking moments year after year – Arizona softball finally made it back to the Women's College World Series. The Wildcats swept Ole Miss in the Super Regional to advance to the WCWS for the 23rd time in program history and first time since 2010.
The journey to get back to the crown jewel of college softball wasn't an easy road, though, as the Wildcats had been eliminated from the postseason the previous five years in the Super Regional round.
"Our motto this year was 'one team, one heartbeat,' and it definitely showed on the field which is why we broke the curse and we’re going to where we should be,” Dejah Mulipola said after beating Ole Miss.
Arizona rolled through the Regional and Super Regional round, going undefeated and outscoring opponents 33-8 over the two weekend stretch and had the second highest attendance in the team's postseason history as 2,835 fans watched the clinching game over the Rebels.
Several historic moments took place during the 2019 WNIT, when Arizona women’s basketball took home the championship. It was its first WNIT title since 1996, when now-head coach Adia Barnes was playing in an Arizona uniform.
Attendance more than tripled in McKale Center over the six-game stretch, and the championship game turned in 14,644 fans, the largest crowd in program and Pac-12 women’s basketball history. Redshirt sophomore Aari McDonald earned WNIT MVP after averaging over 20 points in the tournament. Hosting all six games also helped Arizona earn a net profit of $106,051.
After cutting down the nets in a thrilling win over Northwestern, Barnes said the program is “hungry for more” heading into the coming years.
6. Tate breaks rushing record (2017)
In October 2017, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate ran away with an NCAA record – quite literally. Entering the first quarter of a game at Colorado after starter Brandon Dawkins got hurt, Tate announced himself to the college football world with a mesmerizing 327 yards rushing for a new FBS record. The sophomore had touchdown runs of 25, 47, 58 and 75 yards, along with throwing for 154 yards and a touchdown.
Tate’s video-game-like numbers propelled Arizona to a 45-42 win in Boulder and paved the way for his name in the Heisman Trophy conversation. The quarterback was 40 rushing yards shy of the program single-game record held by running back Ka’Deem Carey. Tate went on to post a historic season for the Wildcats, becoming the first player to be Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week four-straight weeks.
When talking about all-time performances in a single game, Tate’s is as good as any.
5. Dramatic single sends ‘Cats to CWS (2016)
Who would have guessed that a first-year head coach would accomplish so much in one season? Jay Johnson was named the head coach of the Wildcats baseball program in 2016 and led the ‘Cats to 38 regular-season wins, tied for most in program history.
In the NCAA Tournament, the UA won its regional 3-0 and then traveled across the country to play in the Super Regional at Mississippi State. After winning the first game of the best of three series, Arizona didn’t get out to a good start in game two. Mississippi State led 5-1 heading into the eighth inning before the Wildcats’ bats ignited. UA pulled within one run going into the bottom of the ninth, and then Alfonso Rivas singled to score Cody Ramer, sending the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 11th, Cesar Salazar delivered a walk-off single with two outs and the bases loaded to send the Wildcats to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 2012. Arizona kept the momentum going and advanced to the championship game, but it eventually lost in a three-game series against Coastal Carolina.
4. Down goes No. 2 (2014)
24-point underdogs? No problem. Unranked Arizona football stunned No. 2 Oregon in Eugene in October 2014, winning 31-24. Running back Nick Wilson scored three touchdowns, and backfield teammate Terris Jones-Grigsby had go-ahead touchdown run with 2:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With 2:11 left, linebacker Scooby Wright III strip-sacked Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and recovered the football to help the Wildcats send the Ducks home with their first loss of the season. The win boosted Arizona all the way to No. 10 in the AP poll and was one of the many memorable wins of the 2014 season.
It also marked back-to-back seasons Arizona defeated Oregon when the Ducks were ranked in the top five of the AP poll.
3. Moore’s putt for the win (2018)
Not all heroes wear capes, and women’s golfer Haley Moore is one of those heroes. In the championship match against Alabama, Moore sunk a birdie putt in a playoff on the 19th hole to win Arizona the 2018 National Championship.
Tied with Alabama 2-2, it was down to Arizona’s Moore and ‘Bama’s Lakareber Abe to decide the championship. Moore and Abe were tied after 19 holes, forcing a winner-take-all playoff. Moore had a clean approach to the green and dramatically sunk the putt to end it.
The No. 8-seeded Wildcats weren’t even considered serious championship contenders, yet they somehow pulled off a magical run to win the title that ended in Moore’s teammates racing across the greens of Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., to hug her.
2. Wildcats win 14 straight along with Pac-12 Tournament Championship (2015)
Coming off an Elite Eight loss in 2014, Arizona men's basketball returned a good chunk of its roster and added top-10 recruit in Stanley Johnson. The 2014-15 team went 34-4, the second-most wins in a season in program history (1987-88) and the second season in a row Miller won more than 30 games.
The Wildcats stormed through the tournament, knocking off Colorado, UCLA and Oregon and winning games by an average of 18 points. The victory over UCLA avenged the 2013 semifinal loss – better known as the “He touched the ball” game – and the 2014 championship game loss to the Bruins.
The win over Oregon ensured Arizona would earn a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and gave fully healthy Wildcats perhaps their best shot at a Final Four.
How ‘bout this for a rivalry game? It was one of the most anticipated Territorial Cup games in history and held in Tucson with a winner-take-all sweepstakes for a trip to the Pac-12 Championship game. No. 11 Arizona entered the game with a 9-2 record, as did No. 13 ASU.
Three plays into the game, UA linebacker Scooby Wright III forced a sack-fumble on ASU’s Taylor Kelly, allowing Anthony Lopez to scoop up the loose ball and return it 25 yards for a touchdown. Wildcat running back Nick Wilson stormed out of the backfield with 178 yards and three touchdowns on the day, and quarterback Anu Solomon tossed a pair of touchdowns to Samajie Grant.
Arizona had a 35-21 lead heading into the fourth, but the Sun Devils – led by backup QB Mike Bercovici – pulled the game within one possession on two separate scoring drives. With the game on the line in the final minute, the Arizona defense stepped up and intercepted Bercovici to seal the win and the Pac-12 South. Students and fans alike stormed the field after the clock hit 0:00, marking one of the biggest wins in program history.
The Tallahassee Quarterback Club announced on Tuesday that Arizona football senior receiver Austin Hill is on the watch list for the 2014 Biletnikoff Award.
The Biletnikoff Award is given to the “outstanding receiver” in college football.
Hill missed the 2013 with a knee injury but led the Wildcats in receiving in 2012.
In 2012, Hill was a Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist, All-Pac-12 Second-Team and Phil Steele Fourth-Team All-America.
In addition, Hill caught 81 balls for 1,364 yards and had 11 touchdowns. He was second in the Pac-12 in total receiving yards (1,364) and yards per game (104.9) and had at least 100 yards in five games.
In his UA career he has 102 catches for 1,675 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday that Arizona football senior receiver Austin Hill is on the watch list of the Maxwell Award, given annually to the college player of the year.
Hill missed the 2013 season with a knee injury, but in 2012 led the Wildcats in receiving with 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2012, he was a Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist, All-Pac-12 Second-Team and Phil Steele Fourth-Team All-America.
In 2012, Hill was also second in the Pac-12 in total receiving yards (1,364) and yards per game (104.9). He had a career-high 11 catches for 165 yards at Stanford and tallied 259 yards on 10 catches in the 39-36 win over No. 10 USC.
The Maxwell award is named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell and has been given to the best college football player since 1937.
On Thursday the UA announced that Arizona football will play a home-and-home series against a familiar foe.
In 2022, the Wildcats will host Mississippi State and in 2023 Arizona will travel to Starkville, Miss. to face the Bulldogs. UA athletics director Greg Byrne was the AD for MSU from 2008 to 2010, when he left for Arizona.
This is Arizona’s first game against an SEC opponent since they lost 45-3 at LSU in 2006.
“We’re excited to announce this competitive series for our future football schedules,” Byrne said in a press release. “The opportunity to play an SEC opponent will be a great addition to our schedule for our program and our fans.”
According to fbschedules.com, Mississippi State is the only school from one of the five power conferences Arizona has scheduled in the future.
In 2015, the Wildcats will host UTSA and travel to Nevada. In 2016, the UA will play BYU in Glendale, Ariz. at the Arizona Cardinals’ Stadium and host Grambling State.
Then in 2017 the Wildcats have a home game against Houston and a trip to UTEP. In 2018 the UA will play BYU and UTEP at home and Houston on the road.
Then in 2019 the Wildcats will travel to Hawaii and in 2020 will host UH and play at BYU.
The details of Arizona’s 2014 non-conference schedule was announced last week. They can be found here.
Arizona hockey is in need of a new head coach after Sean Hogan resigned and decided to accept the hockey head coaching job with Ohio University.
“I have decided to start a new chapter in my life and move closer to my family,” Hogan said in a press release. “The opportunity at Ohio University allows me to do that and I look forward to the new challenges in Athens, Ohio.”
Hogan became the program’s second head coach after he replaced Leo Golembieski in the summer of 2011. Last season Hogan led Arizona to its first ACHA Division I national tournament appearance since 2006.
The Wildcats finished the 2013-14 season with a 17-24 record and compiled five victories over top-5 opponents, two of which were ranked No. 1 overall.
Wildcat hockey said in a press release a national search has begun for a new head coach.
Arizona sand volleyball added another player for 2015, Taylor Lane, who is from Tucson.
Lane, who prepped at Amphi High School, transferred from Point Loma Nazarene University and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
“It’s such a thrill to add a Tucson native to the program,” head coach Steve Walker said in a pres release. “Taylor is a very explosive athlete who also has an innate feel for virtually all aspects of the game. She was a standout locally at the high school level on and off the hardwood, and I look for her to be an impact player for us, especially as a defensive player who can transition and score points.”
Lane is a 5-foot-9 hitter/defensive specialist that led Point Loma to a 30-7 record and the NCCAA National Championship in 2013. She had 103 assists, 61 digs, 21 kills and 12 service aces in 2013, and 108 digs and 43 kills in 2012.
Lane was on the PacWest All-Academic Team in 2012 and 2013 and was an NCCAA Scholar-Athlete selection in 2013.
On Wednesday the UA announced that Arizona women’s tennis signed Hanna Sohn, a recruit from Cologne, Germany.
“We are very happy to welcome Hanna to our family,” head coach Vicky Maes said in a press release. “She is a wonderful girl and a tough competitor. What I admire in her is her ability to out-think her opponents, not something you often see in young players nowadays.”
In a press release, Sohn said she chose Arizona because of the opportunity to play in the Pac-12, the players and coaches, as well as the business program.
Arizona will lose four seniors this season, and in 2014-15 the program will have senior Laura Oldham, juniors Inge Hendrikx and Shayne Austin and sophomore Lauren Marker.
“[Sohn] will make an immediate impact in our line-up, yet I also know she will get a lot better in college,” Maes said. “Most importantly, I know she will make a loyal, hardworking and positive teammate and that is what we value most.
Arizona football received another transfer Tuesday when LSU defensive end Jordan Allen announced that he is transferring to Arizona, reported the Arizona Daily Star.
The 6-foot-6 254 pound Allen will be a redshirt senior next season, and has already earned his undergraduate degree. As long as he picks a graduate degree that isn’t offered at LSU, he is eligible to play as soon as he lands in Tucson.
Allen lost his starting job early this past season, and finished 2013 with 16 tackles and two sacks. He missed most of 2012 with an injury.
He will compete for the starting job against seniors Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato.
Allen will know at least one player when he joins Arizona. Current Wildcats’ quarterback Jerrard Randall also played at LSU from 2011 to 2012 before he transferred to Northeast Mississippi Community College, then Arizona.
Three Arizona football players were named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society.
It was announced Tuesday that Wildcats’ Tevin Hood, Jack Fischer and Brian Chacon, all achieved at least a 3.2 GPA throughout the entire course of their undergraduate studies. They have also met, or are currently meeting, all NCAA-mandated progress toward degree requirements.
Chacon, Arizona’s long snapper, will graduate in May with a degree in engineering management. He currently has a 3.299 GPA, according to a press release by Arizona Athletics.
Fischer, a linebacker, graduated this past December with a degree in marketing. He achieved a 3.382 GPA while attending Arizona. During his time as a Wildcat, Fischer was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic honoree list three times.
Hood also graduated in December. The defensive lineman graduated with a 3.476 GPA and a degree in general studies with a focus on the American experience. Hood is also a 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-District and Pac-12 All-Academic honoree.
Arizona men’s golf received two Pac-12 Conference honors this week.
Senior Erik Oja was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team while junior Alex McMahon received honorable mention selection.
“It feels good to have two players from our conference recognized for individual performance,” head coach Jim Anderson said in a press release. “Erik’s year has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially when you look at the fact he has finished 13th or better in each of the 12 events we played. Alex just kept competing and improving this year, and we are very proud of him.”
Oja is ranked No. 54 in the country. He finished 13th or better in all of the tournaments this season. The Sweden native was also recently named to the Palmer Cup’s European team.
“Erik is very deserving of first team,” Anderson said. “Maybe because our team has had ups and downs, he hasn’t received as much individual attention. But it is very difficult to ignore the body of work he has assembled, especially when you consider the consistency he demonstrated.”
Arizona softball junior Hallie Wilson was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week by the conference on Monday.
It is the second time this season she has been honored.
This week through five games, Wilson hit five home runs and had a batting average of .533. The Wildcats won all five of their games.
Currently, Wilson is the Pac-12 leader in runs scored. She scored 11 times this past week as Arizona scored a total of 52 times in the five games. For the entire season, Wilson is hitting .421 with 12 home runs and has driven in 51 runs.
This is the third time this season a Wildcat has been named the softball Player of the Week, and this is the 140th time in its history that an Arizona softball player has been named conference Player of the Week.
This weekend Arizona football received a verbal commitment from Chaparral High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.) offensive lineman Keenan Walker.
As for Walker, the 6-foot-6, 274-pound high school junior is a 4-star recruit and ranked as the No. 2 overall recruit from Arizona by ESPN.
Walker plays offensive tackle for Chaparral, the same high school current Wildcats DaVonte’ Neal, Connor Brewer, Chase Gorham, Cody Ippolito, Brendan Murphy and Carter Wood graduated from.
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez appears to have open and secured a pipeline from Chaparral to Tucson. Current Arizona assistant coach Charlie Ragle was the head coach at Chaparral from 2007-11 before being hired with the Wildcats.
Walker’s verbal commitment to Arizona is not official and could easily change his mind between now and his signing day in February of 2015.
ESPN reports that Walker has offers from nine other universities: ASU, UCLA, USC, Washington, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Arizona football season may be in its off-season but head coach Rich Rodriguez is making his rounds. This week, the soon-to-be third-year Wildcats coach will play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge is a golf tournament held at Reynolds Plantation resort on Lake Oconee outside of Atlanta from April 27-29.
Rodriguez will be teamed up with Arizona alumnus Jack Wagner, who is famous for being an actor on TV shows such as “General Hospital” and “Melrose Place.” The golf tournament raises money for scholarships and charitable contributions.
Rodriguez will compete against 11 other teams of NCAA head coaches and celebrity alumni. Some of the other coaches competing in this year’s Challenge include South Carolina’s head coach Steve Spurrier and Virginia Tech’s head coach Frank Beamer.
The tournament will be taped by ESPN. Specific dates for when it will air have not been released.
Head coach Steve Walker announced Tuesday that Arizona sand volleyball added two recruits, Olivia Macdonald and Hailey Devlin, for the 2014-15 season.
Macdonald is from Piopio, New Zealand, and is the first international recruit in program history. She is a 6-foot net player that has had a lot of experience in the sand game, and has earned MVP honors twice on the international level.
“Olivia will be a great addition to our ever expanding sand volleyball team,” Walker said in a press release Tuesday. “She’s well-traveled for her age and brings a good deal of international level experience to the roster.
She represented New Zealand at the Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships in 2013 in Proto, Portugal.
“She was part of a burgeoning national team program in New Zealand that is very much on the rise and the level of competition she was able to face worldwide will serve her well as she transitions to the collegiate game,” Walker said.
Devlin is 6-foot-2, and she was an All-CIF first-team selection and a first-team all-conference selection as a senior at Scripps Ranch High School. She was second-team All-San Diego Section selection as well.
“Hailey will be a terrific addition to the team as she is a player with the rare blend of both length and skill,” Walker said. “On the hardwood, Hailey plays in what is considered the most competitive region of volleyball in the country and her team relies on her to play every phase of the game.”
Like Macdonald,she has had experience in the sand game as Devlin played for the USA Junior National Beach Team.
“She really started to find her timing and rhythm as a player on the beach this past spring and had outstanding summer of 2013, capping it off with a medal in the gold bracket of the USA High Performance Championships in July,” Walker said.
Both players will add size to the roster, as eight out of Arizona’s 13 players are under 6-feet tall.
Three Arizona gymnasts were honored in the 2014 Pac-12 Conference women’s gymnastics All-Academic teams announced on Monday.
Senior Shana Sangston is on the Pac-12 First-Team All-Academic honors for the conference. Sangston earned a 3.84 GPA and studies family studies and human development.
Also being honored are junior Amber Wobma and sophomore Shelby Edwards, who both earned honorable mentions for the All-Academic team. Wobma has a 3.45 GPA and majors in pre-public health. Edwards made the list with a 3.15 GPA as a journalism major.
In order to be named on the Academic team, student-athletes must have a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and be a significant contributor to the team.
“It’s very important to our team,” head coach Bill Ryden said in a press release. “Our academic progress rate (APR) and graduation numbers show how seriously we take it. To be honored by the conference on these academic achievements is an honor.”
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