The Arizona women’s basketball program is going to the National Championship game for the first time ever.
Led by a stifling defensive effort, the Wildcats held No. 1 Connecticut to 36 percent shooting to earn a 69-59 victory. All-American point guard Aari McDonald was her normal self, dropping in a game-high 26 points to lead Arizona to the title game.
ARIZONA STUNS UCONN AND IS HEADING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! pic.twitter.com/ZX73OdqwoF
— ESPN (@espn) April 3, 2021
At half, the Wildcats led by 10, and extended their lead out to as much as 14 in the second half. They handed the Huskies their biggest deficit of the season and closed the game out in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
“That says we have a stingy defense,” McDonald said of her team’s defensive presence. “Everybody takes pride in their defense and you’ve seen that on display tonight.”
Connecticut did not have a lead once, and National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers was held to 18 points. Nothing came easy for her, and despite putting up double-digits, the star guard only shot 5-13 from the field in 39 minutes of action.
It’s going to be an all Pac-12 championship game, as the Wildcats will take on Stanford on Sunday, April 4 at 3 p.m. local time. Arizona lost to the Cardinal twice during the regular season.
“I’ve been saying all along that the Pac-12 is the best conference in the country,” Barnes said. “This is proof of it. Stanford won the Pac-12, we were second, and we’re playing for a National Championship.”
The championship run continues for Adia Barnes’ group in March, and now the program will have a chance to make more history.