With the excitement surrounding the Arizona women’s basketball program, Wildcat Fever hit the campus showing support for Adia Barnes’ Elite Eight-bound team, most notably new football coach Jedd Fisch.
Fisch rescheduled the football team’s Saturday morning practice up an hour to 10 a.m. in order to fly out in time to San Antonio to cheer the basketball team to a 74-59 victory over Texas A&M at the Alamodome.
I have been here 90 days tomorrow and it does feel like family! So glad I was able to watch your team play! Epitome of teamwork, effort, and hustle! Congrats @AdiaBarnes – awesome! Keep it going! #winningiscontagious https://t.co/VmFAXuV2Yx
— Jedd Fisch (@CoachJeddFisch) March 28, 2021
“It’s amazing for Jedd Fisch, whose been amazing since he has been at Arizona,” Barnes said. “I think he is perfect for Arizona and what Arizona stands for and what we’re all about.
“For a football coach to come down to San Antonio from Tucson after practice to support the women’s team, it means a lot. I’m so appreciative.”
“He is perfect for what Arizona is all about. … At most universities, a women’s basketball team doesn’t even see the football coach.” — @AdiaBarnes, on @CoachJeddFisch flying to San Antonio after football practice to watch @ArizonaWBB‘s Sweet 16 win pic.twitter.com/zOitcgwwEX
— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) March 28, 2021
Arizona, the No. 3 seed, will face No. 4 Indiana, which is fresh off an upset victory Saturday over No. 1 seed North Carolina State. The game will be televised on ESPN on Monday with a start time of 6 p.m. local time for the right to go to the Final Four.
Saturday night’s game against the Aggies marked the first Sweet 16 appearance for Arizona since 1998, when Barnes was the leading scorer on that team.
Arizona was fueled by the support by Fisch, athletic director Dave Heeke and president Robert C. Robbins at the Alamodome.
The Wildcats’ swarming defense fed their offense getting good looks for an impressive 46 percent shooting from the field against the Aggies.
Not done yet. pic.twitter.com/MHdrRv5l43
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) March 28, 2021
Early in the game, Arizona trailed 10-4 but from that point on, it was tenacious defense and a heavy dose of star guard Aari McDonald that put Arizona on top.
The defense put pressure on the Aggies they haven’t faced all season.
Texas A&M entered the game averaging 14.5 turnovers a game. The Wildcats capitalized by using a full-court press for the majority of the game, leading to 19 turnovers and 28 points off those turnovers.
McDonald took over the game in the first half with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting. She also had three rebounds and two steals.
She would finish her best game on the biggest stage with 31 points on 12-for-21 shooting while going 6-for-12 from 3-point range. She also added five rebounds in 37 minutes.
Here are McDonald and Barnes talking about advancing to the Elite Eight and discussing the mindset of the team:
Arizona throughout its season was thought of by most media as a team that depended too much on McDonald to make plays for the offense. Although McDonald was the only Arizona player who scored in double figures against Texas A&M, all eight of the Wildcats who played scored. Five of them had six or more points.
Here are Sam Thomas and Bendu Yeaney talking about advancing to the Elite Eight and discussing what it means for them to reach this point of the tournament: