After ending the season on a two-game losing streak, Arizona looked to get back on track in the Pac-12 tournament against Washington State, which they split the regular-season series against the Wildcats.
Arizona opened the game on an 11-0 run and never looked back, advancing to the semifinals after beating the Cougars 60-44 in convincing fashion.
Arizona went on an 11-0 run to start the game and it was the defense that was the difference by forcing WSU into 11 first-quarter turnovers.
The Wildcats were led by forward Trinity Baptiste, who scored seven of the team’s first 11 points of the game. Baptiste gave Arizona the spark that it missed over the last few games, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds and a career-high six steals in 26 minutes.
In the first half, Arizona’s defense was suffocating, forcing WSU into 21 turnovers, but the team was only up by eight points at the end of the half. The Wildcats struggled on offense to get a consistent rhythm going shooting 45 percent from the field while making 1-of-7 from 3-point range.
Star guard Aari McDonald got off to a slow of 1-for-6 from the field. As all elite players do, she was able to make her mark in different ways even though the shot wasn’t falling. Defensively, McDonald led the Arizona defense helping hold the Leger-Walker sisters (Krystal and Charlisse) to an underwhelming 22 percent shooting.
McDonald extended her double-digit scoring streak to 86 games finishing with 13 points, a season-high nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals in 31 minutes.
Here’s Baptiste talking about the energy her team brought to the game and discussing what the team did to lock in defensively:
Arizona not only forced WSU into a horrendous 26 turnovers, but it held the Cougars to 26 percent shooting from the field and didn’t allow them to get hot from the 3-point line. WSU was 5-for-21 from beyond the arc.
Here’s Adia Barnes talking about her team’s energy level from the start of the game and discussing what went into shutting down the Cougars and the Leger-Walker sisters:
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer Troy Hutchison hails from Tucson and is a lifelong Arizona Wildcats follower. He has been involved in sports journalism over the last two years while taking communications courses at Pima Community College.