It has been 16 years since the Arizona women’s basketball program was in the NCAA tournament.
On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Wildcats (18-5) took on No. 14 Stony Brook ending the 16-year drought.
Thanks to a quick 26-10 start in the first quarter and swarming defense Adia Barnes‘ squad took care of business, defeating the Seawolves 79-44 to advance to the Round of 32, where No. 11 BYU awaits Wednesday fresh off an upset win over Rutgers.
— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) March 22, 2021
The victory gives Arizona its first NCAA tournament win since March 20, 2005, when the Wildcats beat Oklahoma 72-69 to advance to the second round.
Over the last month, Arizona has struggled to find its rhythm on the offensive end, and during its previous four games, the team shot 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep.
The Wildcats came out on fire against Stony Brook thanks to their defense, which created easy open shots on the other end. Arizona shot an 58 percent from the field and went 8-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Star guard Aari McDonald in her first NCAA tournament game with Arizona, came out on fire and extended her double-digit scoring streak to 88 games. McDonald finished the game with 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field while collecting four assists and three steals in 24 minutes.
Here’s McDonald talking about her team’s performance and discussing what the win means to the program:
Arizona’s defense sparked the offense in large part by getting its hands in the passing lanes and creating 25 turnovers off of 17 steals. The Wildcats converted those turnovers to 25 points and had 11 fast-break points as well.
Forward Sam Thomas was at the forefront of the defense for Arizona. Although Thomas finished the game with two points, she made her mark on defense tying a career-high with six steals, creating chaos.
Here’s Thomas talking about the defensive effort and discussing what it was like to play in her first NCAA tournament game:
The battle in the paint was completely one-sided as Arizona used its height advantage to outscore the Seawolves 44-18, with both forwards Cate Reese and Trinity Baptiste finishing in double figures for a total of 34 points
Arizona’s defense held Stony Brook to 29 percent from the field on 14-for-48 shooting. The Wildcats forced more turnovers than the Seawolves had made buckets.
Here’s Barnes talking about her team’s performance and discussing what it was like to end the program’s 16-year tourney drought:
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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.