No. 16 Arizona continued its surge after losing at home to the highly-ranked Oregon schools at McKale Center three weeks by sweeping UCLA and USC for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Next up on Friday and Sunday: Rematches with the No. 3 Ducks and No. 10 Beavers, this time on the road.
Arizona’s 73-57 win over USC in front of 5,027 fans increases its total to five straight victories against conference opponents, a feat last achieved by the Wildcats in the 2010-11 season.
The Wildcats are 18-3 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-12 — equaling their conference win total from last season.
Adia Barnes takes pride in Arizona’s sweep of the L.A. schools for the first time in 15 years because her sisters went to USC and UCLA and she grew up wanting to play at UCLA but the Bruins did not actively recruit her. pic.twitter.com/ae9KCw055a
Cate Reese ended her double-double dry spell that extended six games back to Jan. 10 with 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Reese matches her season total of last season with seven double-doubles, giving her 14 for her career. That ties Margo Clark (1991-94) for No. 6 on Arizona’s career chart.
Cate Reese talks about breaking through with her first double-double in three weeks. She mentioned it is all about working to be in the right place. pic.twitter.com/JeSNiYLqde
USC is 11-10 and 3-7.
Aari McDonald has now scored in double-figures (20 points against USC) in 58 consecutive games, her entire career. It was her fourth straight game with 20 points or more.
The streak leads the nation. She also had eight assists and committed only two turnovers after having that many in the 92-66 win over No. 8 UCLA on Friday.
Cate Reese talks about what Arizona’s mindset and focus must be on heading into the toughest road trip in the Pac-12 against Oregon and Oregon State. pic.twitter.com/29dfbIouDP
In the three previous games combined before this weekend, McDonald had 18 turnovers. She had eight turnovers at USC on Jan. 3 when Arizona beat the Trojans 65-57.
Arizona almost allowed a 24-10 lead with 6:03 left in the second quarter slip away after USC outscored the Wildcats 15-4. Endyia Rogers’ free throw with 1:13 left in the half cut Arizona’s lead to 28-25.
Sam Thomas woke up the Arizona crowd with a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in the half, ultimately giving the Wildcats a 34-28 lead at halftime. Thomas had 20 points Friday night against UCLA. She had only seven against the Trojans but she continued her impressive defense with two blocked shots and three steals.
Adia Barnes talks about limiting USC center Alissa Pili to two points in the fourth quarter after she had 19 in the previous three quarters. pic.twitter.com/gUD4SLK0xH
After USC cut the lead to 50-46 at the end of the third quarter, the game was still in doubt.
That’s when the crowd started to make more noise, sensing the urgency. The Wildcats responded by outscoring USC 23-11 in the quarter.
Their defense put the clamps on the Trojans, who only scored two points in a 5-minute stretch toward the end of the game.
Dominique McBryde talks about scoring 10 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Arizona pull away from USC. pic.twitter.com/sUWQEvpE4M
Dominique McBryde, the Bang-the-Drum honoree after the game, had 10 points in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats pull away. Reese contributed six points and six rebounds in the quarter.
McBryde finished with 14 points, a blocked shot and a steal.
Dominique McBryde is the Bang-the-Drum honoree pic.twitter.com/ajQQtO0uNB
Adia Barnes comments on Arizona’s attendance of more than 5,000 on Super Bowl Sunday and that her team has nothing to lose heading into next weeks trip to the Oregon schools. pic.twitter.com/Vu5oyKEsuv
USC’s Alissa Pili was a non-factor in the last quarter with two points after scoring 19 points in the previous three quarters. Fellow freshman Endyia Rogers had only seven points on 2-of-7 shooting after scoring 30 points at ASU on Friday in a triple-overtime loss.
Second-chance points and controlling the paint defensively was a concern of Barnes’ at halftime after USC’s rally in the second quarter. Arizona wound up outscoring USC 12-6 in second-chance points and 34-26 in points-in-the-paint.
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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.