The Arizona Wildcats’ women’s basketball team will continue its season in the 64-team WNIT, starting Thursday against Idaho State at 6:30 p.m. at McKale Center.
Third-year coach Adia Barnes, a former Arizona standout, has led the Wildcats into the postseason for the first time since the 2011 WNIT, when they lost at Utah State in the first round.
If Arizona defeats Idaho State (20-10) it would play the winner of Pacific (18-12) and Fresno State (19-12) in the second round on a date to be determined. The Bulldogs host that game Wednesday.’
The Wildcats put in a bid to host the first-round game and were granted that request by the WNIT after averaging 2,203 fans in 16 home games this season. A good crowd for the game against Idaho State, matched with a win, could guarantee another home game in the second round. The WNIT is played only at home sites through the championship game.
Arizona beat Idaho State 71-46 in the season opener.
This will be the Wildcats’ 11th postseason appearance, dating to their 1996 WNIT championship. That took place when the WNIT tournament — not sanctioned then by the present WNIT — was composed of eight teams and was played at Amarillo, Texas. Barnes was the MVP of that tournament, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds in the 79-63 championship win over Northwestern.
Brenda Pantoja, now an NCAA referee, had 16 points and 13 assists for the Wildcats in that game.
Barnes’ team can be a significant draw with standout Aari McDonald as a high-scoring point guard and the men’s team out of the postseason (avoiding a potential schedule conflict).
.@AariMcdonald reached 700 points in 29 games. Here are the only players in Pac-12 history to do it faster.
Kelsey Plum, Wash ('16-'17) – 23
C. Ogwumike, Stan ('13-'14) – 27
Plum, Wash ('15-'16) – 27
Rehema Stephens, UCLA ('90-'91) – 28
Aari McDonald, Ariz ('18-'19) – 29 pic.twitter.com/LiT1eNezFt
McDonald and freshman forward Cate Reese were named to All-Pac-12 teams. McDonald was named to the All-Pac-12 and All-Defensive Teams while Reese was named to the All-Freshman Team.
McDonald is the nation’s third-leading scorer who also led the Pac-12 in points per game and steals per game. She averages 25.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She has joined Kelsey Plum (Washington), Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) and Candice Wiggins (Stanford) as the only four players in conference history to have 700 points and 120 assists in one season.
The sophomore transfer from Washington is Arizona’s single-season scoring record holder and is currently seventh on the Pac-12’s single-season scoring list with 774 points.
Reese, who was also named to the coaches’ All-Freshman team, was the Pac-12’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer among freshmen. She is averaging 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Arizona Postseason Results
2011 Women’s National Invitation Tournament
March 17, 2011
at Utah State 103, Arizona 95
2005 NCAA Tournament
Chattanooga Subregional (Knoxville, Tenn.)
March 20, 2005
Arizona 72, Oklahoma 69
March 22, 2005
LSU 76, Arizona 43
2004 NCAA Tournament
West Subregional (Austin, Texas.)
March 21, 2004
Michigan State 72, Arizona 60
2003 NCAA Tournament
East Subregional (Manhattan, Kan.)
March 23, 2003
Notre Dame 59, Arizona 47
2001 Women’s National Invitation Tournament
March 15, 2001
at Arizona 85, Pepperdine 65
March 17, 2001
at New Mexico 75, Arizona 62
2000 NCAA Tournament
Mideast Subregional (Knoxville, Tenn.)
March 18, 2000
Arizona 73, Kent State 61
March 20, 2000
at Tennessee 75, Arizona 60
1999 NCAA Tournament
Midwest Subregional (Piscataway, N.J.)
March 12, 1999
Arizona 87, Florida 84 (OT)
March 14, 1999
at Rutgers 90, Arizona 47
1998 NCAA Tournament
East Subregional (Tucson, Ariz.)
March 13, 1998
at Arizona 75, Santa Clara 63
March 15, 1998
at Arizona 94, Virginia 77
East Regional (Dayton, Ohio)
March 21, 1998 Connecticut 74, Arizona 57
1997 NCAA Tournament
West Subregional (Athens, Ga.)
March 14, 1997
Arizona 76, W. Kentucky 72
March 16, 1997
at Georgia 80, Arizona 72
1996 Women’s National Invitation Tournament
March 21, 1996
Arizona 80, W. Kentucky 72
March 22, 1996
Arizona 80, Arkansas 77
March 23, 1996
Arizona 79, Northwestern 63