Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 12 Arizona Wildcats Reach 20 Wins, In Search of Much More

Arizona’s program has reached 20 wins in only about 30 percent of its existence since 1972-73, but all that matters to Adia Barnes is the Wildcats are at that amount with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

The 20 wins, achieved with the 64-53 win tonight at McKale Center in front of 6,381, is but a milepost on the way to something greater as far as Barnes, Aari McDonald and the Wildcats are concerned. It is the program’s 11th 20-win season in its 37-year history.

Arizona (20-4, 9-4 Pac-12) knows it can build on its No. 13 spot in the NCAA Top 16 Committee ranking by achieving more wins down the stretch. The chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament is in the balance. So far, the scale is tipped toward Arizona.

After a slow start in which Washington (11-13, 3-10) led after the first quarter and it kept the Wildcats to a two-possession lead at halftime, Arizona started to pull away in the third quarter.

Aari McDonald (Arizona Athletics photo)

The Wildcats have won seven of their last eight games, which includes a win at then-No. 9 Oregon State last week. Entering the game, the Wildcats’ RPI was No. 22. They are 5-4 against the RPI top 50. They are 15-0 against teams in Quadrants 2-4 (No. 51 or lower-rated RPI teams). Washington was No. 135 entering the game.

In other words, they are taking care of business.

The 3-point shooting of Helena Pueyo and blocked shots and steals of Sam Thomas set the table for Arizona, which led 32-26 at halftime.

Pueyo, a 6-foot freshman, tied her young career-best total of four 3-pointers with still 6:35 remaining in the first half. She made four from beyond the arc on Nov. 20 against Prairie View A&M. She did not make another against the Huskies and finished with 14 points.

Thomas tied a career-high with four blocked shots with 3:26 left in the first half. She finished with six blocks, which fell just short of Shawntinice Polk’s school record of nine set against Cal on March 3, 2003.

McDonald’s nine points in the third quarter helped Arizona pull away to a 50-36 lead with 2:27 left. McDonald, who made 8 of 10 shots from the field in the game, finished with 19 points, increasing her double-digit scoring streak to 61 games, the longest active streak in the nation.

Cate Reese also fueled Arizona’s charge after halftime with nine of her 13 points. She finished with seven rebounds.

Cate Reese (Arizona Athletics photo)

Amari Carter continued her surge in the second half of the season offensively with 10 points (behind 2 of 3 shooting from beyond the arc) and three assists.

The game had five lead changes in the first half. Washington squandered a 13-9 lead with 1:36 left in the first quarter. Consecutive 3-pointers by Thomas and Amari Carter pushed Arizona’s lead to 28-21 with 2:02 remaining in the half. The Wildcats did not trail again.

Amber Melgoza led the Huskies with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Her teammates shot a combined 12 of 35.

The Wildcats achieved their first season sweep of Washington since the 2010-11 season.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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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