Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona Wildcats off to best Pac-12 start in program history after beating Utah

The sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats continue to make history in the fifth year of the Adia Barnes era coaching her alma mater.

A 77-60 victory at Utah on Sunday gives the Wildcats a 5-0 Pac-12 record — their best conference start in program history.

Arizona (6-0 overall) also swept Colorado and Utah on the road for the first time.

Arizona is off to a 5-0 start for the first time in Pac-12 history (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

Aari McDonald registered her 72nd straight double-digit scoring effort with a team-best 19 points. She also had six rebounds, six steals and six assists.

McDonald is four points shy of joining the top five scorers in Arizona history despite being in only her third season with the Wildcats. McDonald, a transfer from Washington, is at 1,616 points in 72 games with Arizona, four points behind No. 5 Elizabeth Pickney (1,620 points in 121 games).

Barnesteam displayed balanced scoring with Sam Thomas reaching a season-high 11 points, Cate Reese adding 11 on 5-of-7 shooting, Shaina Pellington finishing with nine points, freshman post player Lauren Ware with eight and Helena Pueyo scoring seven.

Shaina Pellington (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

The Wildcats dominated in fastbreak points with a 13-0 edge and points in the paint with a 42-20 margin.

After struggling from the field in the first half at Colorado on Friday, shooting 21.5 percent and scoring only 20 points by halftime, the Wildcats came out against Utah with one of their strongest opening performances of the season.

Arizona established a 28-17 lead in the first quarter by shooting 58.8 percent.

Cate Reese (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

The Wildcats’ defense again set the tone with five steals — two each from McDonald and Reese — in the first quarter that were partly responsible for Utah’s eight turnovers in the period. Utah did not make a field in the last 4:12 of the quarter.

Arizona built a 14-point lead in the second quarter but the Wildcats lapsed, making only one of their last seven shots in the period as Utah closed the deficit at halftme to 41-33.

McDonald did not score in the second quarter, missing her five field goal attempts.

Trinity Baptiste (Pac-12 Network screen shot)

The Wildcats did not take advantage of Utah going 1 of 11 from the field in one stretch in the second quarter.

The Utes’ leading scorer Brynna Maxwell, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, was held to only three points in the first half. Maxwell, who averaged 13.0 points per game entering Sunday, played only 13 minutes because of two fouls and was 1 of 4 from the field, 1 of 3 from 3-point range.

Maxwell finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, 3 of 6 from beyond the arc, for Utah, which is 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12.

Arizona started to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring Utah 19-15 that period, behind seven points from McDonald. Arizona’s lead increased to as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Arizona next plays Idaho at McKale Center on Wednesday at noon.

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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