Another historic “statement” win for Arizona in a season that is filled with goosebump-worthy memorable moments, and the calendar has not even turned March yet.
Aari McDonald, coming off a weekend at Utah and Colorado in which she did not play because of a left ankle injury, made the game-winning layup with 9 seconds left in overtime tonight against No. 4 Stanford. Kiana Williams missed a jumper and McDonald, who finished with 20 points in 27 minutes, corralled the rebound to preserve the win.
“This is a statement win,” McDonald said. “It’s a testament to this program and Coach (Adia) Barnes.”
The 13th-ranked Wildcats overcame No. 4 Stanford — and historical odds — to win 73-72 in overtime in front of 7,838 boisterous fans at McKale Center.
Bedlam! Arizona beats a top 5 team for the first time in program history. pic.twitter.com/Ch6mR3Nu8H
The Wildcats (23-5, 12-5 Pac-12) defeated a top 5 team for the first time in program history with the victory. Arizona is now 1-50 against such teams, including a 1-27 mark at McKale Center.
Arizona was in a 1-33 stretch against Stanford before tonight. Barnes has now beaten Stanford once as a player as a senior in 1997-98 when Reshea Bristol made a last-second shot to top the No. 11 Cardinal 91-90 and now as a coach.
Interviewed Tara Vanderveer just now. “Adia (Barnes) gets my vote for (Pac-12) Coach of the Year. She’s done a phenomenal job.”
The win puts Arizona — now victors over three top 10 teams this season — in prime position to host the NCAA tournament first and second rounds from March 20-23. The Wildcats also have a chance to finish third in the Pac-12 and avoid regular-season conference champ Oregon until the conference tournament title game next week.
If Stanford (24-5, 13-4) loses at ASU on Sunday and Arizona beats Cal, the Wildcats will be the No. 3 seed.
Adia Barnes on the program’s first win over a top 5 team: “We talk about leaving a legacy, and that’s what we do.” pic.twitter.com/picklYodJc
McDonald was the game-winning star of the game but Arizona had a balanced effort with different players stepping up at different times during the game.
Helena Pueyo scored eight of her 11 points in the first quarter.
Amari Carter had seven of her 10 points in the second quarter.
Dominique McBryde had 11 of her 13 points in the third quarter.
Sam Thomas had 12 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter.
McDonald topped Arizona with four points in overtime, including her game-winning shot.
Adia Barnes talks about her successful substitutions commenting she puts in players off a feeling she has for the game. pic.twitter.com/sNPLiGpznG
In overtime, Carter drilled a 3-pointer with 2:02 left to put Arizona ahead 68-64. Lacie Hull traveled on the other end. After Thomas drilled another 3-pointer, Williams answered with a shot beyond the arc with 1:16 left to cut the lead to 71-67.
Following a miss by McDonald, Hull made two free throws. A turnover by McDonald resulted in a Hull 3-pointer to put Stanford ahead 72-71 with 33 seconds left.
Sam Thomas talks about the impact Aari McDonald’s presence has on her teammates. pic.twitter.com/t4HGW5X1dQ
McDonald answered with her game-winning layup.
McDonald increased her double-digit scoring streak to 63 games with a free throw with 2:27 left in regulation.
Atmosphere is electric. pic.twitter.com/bM2nVbEbCH
Near the end of regulation, Nadia Fingall made Stanford’s 11th 3-pointer on a bank shot to put the Cardinal ahead 62-59 with 58 seconds remaining. The teams then traded baskets with McDonald converting a layup followed by a layup by Williams with 24 seconds left.’
McDonald was fouled 3 seconds later and made both free throws.
Barnes 66-57 in 4th year as coach. VanDerveer 1,091-251 her 42nd year. VanDerveer coached against Barnes when Barnes played. UA beat No.11 Stanford 91-90 on last-second shot by Reshea Bristol at McKale in Barnes’ SR season of 97-98. Snapped Stanford’s 48-game Pac-10 win streak.
Alyssa Jerome, who had played only 5 minutes and did not attempt a shot in the game, was fouled and made only one of two of her free throws on the other end with 21.1 seconds remaining to put Stanford ahead 63-61.
McDonald was fouled driving to the basket with 15.6 seconds left and she made both free throws to tie the game. After a Stanford turnover on an inbound play with 13.8 seconds left, Arizona worked the clock down and McDonald missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
The Wildcats will next host California on Sunday at noon with the opportunity to tie a school-record with their 24th regular-season win. The 1999-2000 team that finished 25-7 holds that mark.
Arizona will also celebrate Senior Day honoring seniors Lucia Alonso and Tee Tee Starks, and also McDonald, a junior who is a four-year player because of her transfer from Washington. McDonald reportedly is not close to a decision if whether she will return next season or go to the WNBA.
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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.