Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 18 Arizona Wildcats Attempt to Beat Top 10 Team on Road For First Time in Program History

Fifty-nine games. That’s the amount of times Arizona’s women’s program has played a team on the road ranked in the top 10. Fifty-nine losses. Not one win.

With the magnitude of today’s game, researching the Arizona media guide was a must.

Arizona’s 0-59 fate against top 10 teams on the road can change today when No. 18 Arizona plays No. 10 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion at 1 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/KTUC 1400-AM). Both teams are 13-0 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play.

Semaj Smith, one of the most improved players in the nation, practices with Arizona at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Saturday (Arizona Athletics photo)

Beating a team ranked in the top 10 on the road has escaped Adia Barnes eight times since when she took on rebuilding the program at her alma mater four years ago. Her teams have lost those games by an average margin of 21.8 points. The Wildcats came close in their last attempt, at No. 7 Stanford last February in a 56-54 loss when Aari McDonald missed a potential game-winning shot that almost fell at the buzzer.

How Arizona has fared against AP Top 10 teams on the road

Record vs. top teams on the road for Arizona since the program started in 1972-73.
Rec RankLast
0-2vs.No. 111/18/06 vs. Maryland, L 75-61
0-6vs.No. 21/30/10 vs. Stanford, L 83-62
0-5vs.No. 3 1/24/02 vs. Stanford, L 76-62
0-6vs.No. 42/8/13 vs. Stanford, L 73-43
0-4vs.No. 51/20/19 vs. Oregon, L 93-60
0-8vs.No. 62/16/14 vs. Stanford, L 74-48
0-3vs.No. 72/22/19 vs. Stanford, L 56-54
0-10vs.No. 82/9/18 vs. UCLA, L 69-46
0-7vs.No. 91/29/16 vs. Oregon State, L 71-43
0-8vs.No. 101/18/19 vs. Oregon State, L 86-64

Arizona overall has lost 49 straight games to teams ranked in the top 10 dating to an 88-83 win over No. 7 Stanford at McKale Center on Feb. 5, 2004. The late, great Shawntinice Polk had 21 points and 19 rebounds in that game.

Today’s game carries a great magnitude for Arizona’s program but a coach like Barnes must be careful not to be overbearing about the matchup with her team.

A coach can drill into a team the significance of it all by being strict, operating somewhat of a commando operation in which the team sticks to themselves and remains isolated on the road.

Or a coach can be like the affable Barnes and post on social media a night on the town at Beverly Hills on the eve of one of the biggest games in Arizona’s 47-year history as a program.

Arizona enjoying a stop in Beverly Hills (Adia Barnes photo)

Give me Barnes’ approach. This is sports. These are college kids. It’s a close unit of only 13 players and a coaching and support staff. Let them breathe. Let them stay loose even though today’s game is the top game in the nation (the only one between two top 20 teams).

The last time Arizona faced a ranked team when it was ranked was on Dec. 12, 2004, at No. 11 Georgia. The Wildcats, ranked No. 24, lost 70-62 that fateful day in Athens, Ga. Arizona was not ranked again until this season, some 15 years later.

The Wildcats, ranked No. 18 for four consecutive weeks, their sixth straight week in the poll, can achieve a few other feats today:

— Start 3-0 in the conference for only the third time in program history. The 2000-01 and 2003-04 teams had the best starts at 4-0.

— Win a school-record seventh consecutive game on the road. Their six-game run matches that of the 1993-94 team coached by Joan Bonvicini.

Arizona's Longest Road Winning Streaks

Longest winning streaks on the road for Arizona since the program started in 1972-73:
SeasonStkCoachRecord
1993-946Joan Bonvicini15-12
2019-206Adia Barnes13-0
1974-755Nancy Trego12-4
1996-975Joan Bonvicini23-8
1996-975Joan Bonvicini23-8
1999-005Joan Bonvicini25-7
2011-125Niya Butts15-17
1995-964Joan Bonvicini22-8
2000-014Joan Bonvicini20-12
2010-114Niya Butts21-12

— Build on their school-record 13-0 start and nation’s best 19-game winning streak dating to last season’s six-game run to a WNIT title.

A win will also mean a likely move up in the AP Top 25. The Wildcats have not been ranked in the top 15 since the 1999-2000 season.

Arizona Notables

— Arizona leads the country in scoring defense (45.4 points allowed a game). Arizona’s field goal percentage defense (30 percent) is second in the nation and its average winning margin of 26.5 points is the ninth-highest in the nation.

— Cate Reese, the Pac-12 Player of the Week this week for the second time this season, has five double-doubles this season and 12 in her career. The 12 ranks seventh in program history, tied with Davellyn Whyte.

Arizona Double-Double Career Leaders

Top career double-double performers for Arizona.
No.NameYearsGamesD-D
1.Ify Ibekwe2008-1011655
2.Shawntinice Polk2003-059446
3.Adia Barnes1994-9812136
4.Amina Njonkou2006-0910119
4.Dana Patterson1985-8811219
6.Margo Clark1991-948414
7.Cate Reese2018-205213
8.Davellyn Whyte2010-1312612

— McDonald moved to 15th on the Arizona career scoring list with 1,153 points in her two years with the program. She is 15th in the country in scoring and leads the Pac-12 (20.2 points a game). She has scored in double-figures in 50 straight games, her entire Arizona career.

— Arizona is the only team in the Pac-12 to allow fewer than 50 points per game. The Wildcats haven’t allowed 60 points in a game all season.

UCLA Notables

— The Bruins are also off to their best start in program history, topping the 1980-81 team that went 12-0.

— UCLA is the only team with two top 5 scorers in the Pac-12 — Michaela Onyenwere (20.2 points per game) and Japreece Dean (15.6). They rank second and fifth, respectively. Dean has scored at least 20 points in three straight games.

— The Bruins are riding a 12-game series winning streak over Arizona. The Bruins won a 98-93 triple-overtime thriller in the last matchup (last January at McKale) in which Onyenwere went for 28 points and 13 rebounds. Lajahna Drummer tied a career-high with 18 points and grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds.

— Onyenwere became the 24th player in UCLA history to register 1,000 career points and record 500 rebounds on Dec. 1 at Virginia (1,129 points, 558 rebounds).

— UCLA is in its ninth season under head coach Cori Close, who is 15 wins away from 200 for her career and owns an overall record of 185-99 (.651). During Arizona’s run to the WNIT title last year Close was very supportive of Barnes and the Wildcats on Twitter. “We’re excited for where that program is going,” Close said of Arizona during the Pac-12 Media Day before this season. “That’s really the key to our conference, the depth of our conference and Arizona is a part of that.”


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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