Arizona Women's Basketball

Capsulized preview: No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 3 Arizona

Adia Barnes’ branded relentless “Arizona Defense” will once again play a pivotal role in this deep NCAA Tournament run against an Indiana team that knows how to win big games by taking care of the ball.

The fourth-seeded Hoosiers (21-5) have seven wins against teams in the NET Top 50 and their winning margin in those games against the likes of Iowa (twice), Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern is by an average of 9.6 points.

Indiana ranks fifth nationally committing only 11.2 turnovers a game. In its 73-70 win over No. 1 seed North Carolina State in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, Indiana had only nine turnovers.

But, then again, Teri Moren’s team has never faced the quickness of Aari McDonald at the top of Arizona’s defense.

“Aari McDonald is fantastic,” Moren said Sunday during a Zoom press conference. “She’s probably the fastest, quickest kid we’ll play all year. She’s too good not to score.”

Third-seeded Arizona (19-5) enters today’s Elite Eight game against the Hoosiers (6 p.m., ESPN, KTUC 1400-AM) ranked 15th in the nation with 10.9 steals per game off its fullcourt pressure that in turn fuels its offense.

“We’re not afraid of anybody and we play hard,” said Barnes, who has taken the program to its first Elite Eight game. “We play 110 percent at all times, and we play with passion and grit and we’re tough. So we’re not afraid. We just go out and play.

“We want to go do something special. We believe that we can do that.”

Arizona has forced more turnovers (59) than allowed field goals made (56) by Stony Brook, BYU and Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament.

Barnes and her players have taken exception to the media criticizing Arizona’s offense, which statistically struggles in spots ranking 222nd in assists per game (11.9) and 112th in field goal percentage (41.5).

Moren treaded on that subject of Arizona’s offense on Sunday.

“Their coach (Barnes) has made it clear that they know that they have some limitations offensively as well, so they really have got to hang their hat on the defensive end,” Moren said. “They’re super aggressive. Our ball security, taking care of it, having low turnovers, which we’ve been doing, is going to be paramount.”

Indiana’s “limitations” on offense involve 3-point shooting. The Hoosiers rank 288th nationally in 3-pointers made per game (4.3) and 253rd in 3-point shooting percentage (28.6).

Arizona, coming off its season-high 13 made shots from 3-point range against Texas A&M, has 26 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament while Indiana has only eight.

Arizona Career Scoring Leaders

1.Adia Barnes1994-981212,237
2.Davellyn Whyte2009-131262,059
3.Aari McDonald2018-21922,019
4.Dee-Dee Wheeler2001-051241,966
5.Ify Ibekwe2007-111161,653

The point guard matchup of McDonald against Nicole Cardaño-Hillary is enticing with their defensive presence, but what will be the difference is how Cate Reese, Trinity Baptiste and Lauren Ware manage to keep a presence inside against forwards Mackenzie Holmes and Aleksa Gulbe.

Holmes and Gulbe combine to average 26.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game.

The defense of former Indiana guard Bendu Yeaney and Sam Thomas on Grace Berger and Ali Patberg is also something to track. Berger and Patberg love to penetrate and score off their drives or on second chances and they also dish to Holmes and Gulbe. Berger and Patberg combine for 29.5 points, 8.3 assists and 10.7 rebounds a game.

Indiana also prides itself on defense limiting opponents to 35.7 percent shooting from the field and only 59.7 points per game. Arizona’s defense numbers are similar (opponents shoot 36.8 percent and score just 55.2 points a game).

A good question to ask — has Indiana faced a team with Arizona’s athleticism and quickness spearheaded by McDonald? Texas A&M looked out of sorts against the Wildcats’ speed as the game wore on.

Indiana’s low turnover rate will certainly be put to the test.

“Pressuring the ball, containing one-on-one — those things I think we’ve had success turning people over,” Barnes said. “When we haven’t turned people over a lot, we’ve been pretty solid in our transition defense and our half-court defense.

“We definitely have to play the pressure we’ve been playing. It’s gotten us this far.”

Arizona Career Blocked Shot Leaders

1.Shawntinice Polk2003-0594222
2.Sam Thomas2017-20123167
3.Ify Ibekwe2008-10116166
4.LaBrittney Jones2013-17114161
5.Elizabeth Pickney1999-2002121147
6.Marte Alexander1995-98109121
7.Dana Patterson1985-8811291
8.Anne McFadden1979-8210287
9.Margo Clark1991-948468
10.Erica Barnes2011-1411254

No. 3 Arizona Wildcats

19-5 overall, 13-4 Pac-12

NET ranking: No. 15

Big Wins: Dec. 4 No. 8 UCLA (68-65), Jan. 14 No. 10 Oregon (57-41), Jan. 17 No. 36 Oregon State (67-51), Feb. 8 at No. 10 Oregon (79-59), March 24 No. 50 BYU (52-46), March 27 No. 11 Texas A&M (74-59).

Bad Loss: Feb. 28 at No. 95 Arizona State (66-64 OT)

Coach: Adia Barnes (87-65, fifth season)

Probable Starters:

  • G Aari McDonald, Sr., 19.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.8 spg
  • G Bendu Yeaney, Jr., 4.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.4 apg
  • F Sam Thomas, Sr., 7.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 2.4 spg, 1.3 bpg
  • F Trinity Baptiste, Sr., 8.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg
  • F Cate Reese, Jr., 11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg 

Key Role Players:

  • G Helena Pueyo, Soph., 3.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 spg
  • F Lauren Ware, Fr., 4.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg
  • G Shaina Pellington, Jr., 5.7 ppg 
  • G Madi Conner, Fr., 1.0 ppg

By the Numbers:

  • Scoring Offense: 66.8 (129th in nation)
  • Scoring Defense: 55.2 (15)
  • Field-Goal Percentage: 41.5 (112)
  • Field-Goal Percentage Defense: 36.8 (36)
  • Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (147)  
  • Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (78)
  • Free-Throw Percentage: 68.8 (190)
  • Rebound Margin: -0.5 (182)
  • Assists Per Game: 11.9 (222)
  • Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (21)

NCAA tournament appearance: Eighth

Furthest NCAA tournament run: Elite Eight in 2020-21

No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers

21-5 overall, 16-2 Big Ten

NET ranking: No. 9

Big Wins: Jan. 24 at No. 31 Northwestern (74-61), Jan. 31 No. 40 Michigan State (79-67), Feb. 7 at No. 23 Iowa (85-72), Feb. 18 No. 22 Michigan (70-65), Feb. 27 at No. 21 Ohio State (87-75), March 3 No. 23 Iowa (89-80), March 27 No. 7 N.C. State (73-70).

Bad Losses: None.

Coach: Teri Moren (148-79, seventh season at Indiana; 347-129 overall, 18th season)

Probable Starters:

  • G Grace Berger, Jr., 15.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 6.9 rpg
  • G Ali Patberg, Sr., 14.1 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.8 rpg
  • G Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, Sr., 8.8 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg
  • F Mackenzie Holmes, Soph., 17.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.9 bpg
  • F Aleksa Gulbe, Jr., 9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg 

Key Role Players:

  • G Jaelynn Penn, Sr., 9.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
  • F Kiandra Browne, Fr., 2.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg 

By the Numbers:

  • Scoring Offense: 75.3 (28th in nation)
  • Scoring Defense: 59.7 (59)
  • Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (18)
  • Field-Goal Defense: 37.5 (57)
  • Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.3 (288)
  • Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 28.6 (253)
  • Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (130)
  • Rebound Margin: 4.1 (65)
  • Assists Per Game: 14.5 (75)
  • Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (5)

Furthest NCAA tournament run: Elite Eight in 2020-21

History against Arizona: 1-1, the Hoosiers beat Arizona 68-57 in the UC Irvine Invitational on Dec. 21, 1981, and the Wildcats, ranked No. 19, defeated the Hoosiers 87-70 in the 1999 Bowl Invitational championship at McKale Center. Tatum Brown had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats.

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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