Arizona Women's Basketball

Postgame interviews: Arizona vs. BYU

The last time Arizona played in the second round of the NCAA tournament was 16 years ago when the team lost to No. 1 seed LSU in a rout.

The Wildcats this time faced No. 11 seed BYU, and after a gritty back-and-forth game, Adia Barnes‘ team prevailed 52-46 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997-98, when Barnes was the Wildcats’ top player.

No. 3 Arizona (19-5) will now face No. 2 Texas A&M on Saturday at 5 p.m. local time on ESPN2 for the right to advance to the Elite Eight. The last time the Wildcats played in the Sweet 16, they lost to UConn 74-57.

Aari McDonald struggled at the start of the game, going 2-for-7 for four points in the first half. Then, in the fourth quarter, McDonald’s shot started to fall, scoring nine points on the way to helping her team win the game. 

McDonald ended the game with a double-double scoring 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting with 11 rebounds. In the fourth quarter she went 4-for-5 while coming away with the two biggest steals of the game.

Arizona shot a low 36 percent from the field and went 5-for-19 from beyond the arc during the gritty game. In the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, the Wildcats, after trailing 43-39, went on a 13-3 run to close out the game.

They shot 46 percent from the field during fourth quarter.

Here’s McDonald talking about the last five minutes of the game and discussing what it means to be advancing to the Sweet 16:

Coming into Wednesday’s game, BYU was fresh off an upset win over Rutgers in which the Cougars grabbed 14 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.

Arizona, throughout its season, has struggled to consistently rebound. The Wildcats limited the Cougars to nine offensive rebounds.

The Wildcats were led in rebounding by both McDonald and forward Trinity Baptiste, who also collected 11. The Wildcats tied BYU with 38 rebounds. On the offensive glass, Arizona won the battle 14-9, which led to 14 second-chance points.

Here are Cate Reese and Sam Thomas talking about the feeling of moving on to the Sweet 16 and discussing how the team was able to come back from a 43-39 deficit:

In the first half, BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales went 3-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the foul line for 11 of her team’s 25 points. It was clear that if Arizona was to survive and advance, it would have to slow down the sharpshooting guard.

The Wildcats did just that as McDonald locked-in defensively, holding Gonzales to 2-for-7 shooting and five points in the second half. Gonzales finished the game with 17 points on 5-for-13 shooting thanks to Arizona’s defensive effort.

Here’s Barnes talking about advancing to the Sweet 16 and discussing McDonald’s magical fourth quarter:

FOLLOW TROY HUTCHISON ON TWITTER! 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.

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