The games were 311 days apart with identical outcomes and the same player handing Arizona bookend defeats around a 13-game winning streak at McKale Center.
All-American senior guard Mikayla Pivec made the go-ahead shot on March 5 of last year in Oregon State’s double-overtime win over Arizona in the regular-season finale.
After Arizona strung together 13 consecutive wins at McKale, including a six-game run to the WNIT title, the 18th-ranked Wildcats lost 63-61 after Pivec made a jumper in the lane with 3 seconds left on Friday night.
“OK, when’s Pivec graduating?” Barnes said drawing laughs during the postgame press conference. “Can she graduate now? I don’t ever want to see her again.”
Following timeouts by Arizona and Oregon State with 1.4 seconds showing on the clock, Aari McDonald took the inbound pass and tried a 3-pointer but her attempt was blocked by Destiny Slocum at the buzzer.
The scene was unlike many in regular season play at McKale Center. The fans were in the game from the start, all 5,694 of them (although it sounded and felt like more), and their noise built with the intensity of the game.
Barnes, like many, thought the attendance figure was wrong.
“Really, I thought it was way more than 5,700,” she said. “The lower bowl was full and we’ll have a bigger crowd on Sunday.”
Arizona (13-2, 2-2 Pac-12) lost its second consecutive game, both against top 10 opponents. The Wildcats on Sunday at noon face a No. 2-ranked Oregon team coming off an upset loss at ASU tonight.
Arizona has now lost 51 straight games against teams ranked in the top 10.
The Wildcats can take solace in knowing they rallied back twice from double-digit deficits against the No. 3 team in the nation, taking the Beavers to the limit, heading into Sunday’s anticipated game against Oregon.
“This shows a lot of growth, something that we didn’t necessarily get to do at UCLA (on Sunday) just with the fans being there, almost having 6,000 in attendance, coming back not having the defeated look in our eyes,” said Dominique McBryde, who returned after being out since Dec. 2 with a serious left ankle sprain
Dominique McBryde, back after missing five weeks because of an ankle injury, talks about Arizona battling back twice from a double-digit deficit vs. No. 3 Oregon State and the Wildcats’ outlook against No. 2 Oregon Sunday. pic.twitter.com/bGWSPuGODD
McBryde entered the game with 3:51 left in the first quarter. She immediately got a blocked shot on her first defensive possession. She finished with four points in 16 minutes.
“We can contend with top teams and we proved it tonight,” McBryde said. “(Oregon) is going to be hungry. They just lost to ASU. They don’t want to get swept by the Arizonas. They’re going to come out hungry and we just have to match it.”
With No. 1 UConn losing yesterday to Baylor and with Oregon’s loss, Oregon State is in position to be the top-ranked team in the nation Monday.
McDonald finished with 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting to lead the Wildcats. Cate Reese notched her 13th career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. She is alone at No. 7 on the Arizona career chart in double-doubles. She achieved her sixth of this season.
Sam Thomas added 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Penn State graduate transfer guard Amari Carter scored 10, her first game in double-figures with the Wildcats.
Pivec had 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Beavers (15-0, 3-0). Slocum added 13 points and Taylor Jones finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Beavers outrebounded Arizona 38-27, but, oddly, Arizona outscored Oregon State 32-22 in the paint.
The Wildcats rallied from an 11-point deficit to trail by one point late in the third quarter only for Oregon State to respond with four straight baskets to take a 53-44 lead with 9:05 left in regulation.
Wild here in McKale with Arizona close to No. 3 Oregon State. pic.twitter.com/1SwpHUWFCJ
Arizona again responded with six unanswered points to trim the lead to 53-50 with 7:40 remaining.
The game remained close the rest of the way. Arizona was still in it until the end despite making only one of its last nine shots and going scoreless in the last 3:26 of the game.
The injury bug hit Arizona again with Helena Pueyo going down with a right ankle injury with 9:19 left in the second quarter. She had to be helped to the bench and did not return. Barnes said after the game that Pueyo should be ready to play against Oregon Sunday.
The Wildcats fell behind 7-0 early and trailed throughout the first quarter and 3 minutes into the second quarter until Sam Thomas made a bank shot with 7:08 remaining to give Arizona a 20-19 lead.
Adia Barnes discusses the difficulty in the relatively quick turnaround to play No. 2 Oregon at noon on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/XzLBmtRwpy
A 3-pointer by Thomas with 5:04 left in the half gave Arizona a 26-22 lead.
Oregon State took command again, scoring 11 consecutive points to give the Beavers a 33-26 lead with 2:53 remaining. The Beavers made three 3-pointers in that stretch — all by different players (Slocum, Pivec and Kat Tudor).
Tudor made three free throws after she was fouled on a 3-point attempt to give Oregon State a 36-28 lead with 38 seconds left.
Barnes, frustrated with Oregon State getting two quick shots after halftime, called a quick timeout and was as animated as she has ever been with her team.
“I care about the little mental mistakes; we can’t do that to beat the No. 3 team in the country … you have to be extremely disciplined,” Barnes said. “I wasn’t that mad. I was mad at our focus but I was over it after one second. If you’re not locked in on the same page, you don’t win these games.”
“We need to fight back,” she mentioned. “I think we’re going to be fine. I think we showed some great stuff. My team showed some fight. My team doesn’t quit and I love 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.