Coming into Friday night’s game against UConn, Arizona was a heavy 13.5-point underdog and had the lowest odds to win the national title out of the remaining Final Four teams.
The Wildcats, led by coach Adia Barnes, have stated several times that they relish the underdog role. The team proved it by beating the Huskies 69-59 showing the nation that they have one goal in mind.
slap that thing on pic.twitter.com/nEm1M7QeVu
— Arizona Women’s Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) April 3, 2021
Before the game, Arizona got some added motivation when the NCAA released a hype video that featured every team in the Final Four except the Wildcats. The video was deleted, and the NCAA apologized for the error, but it still caught the team’s attention.
— Sam Thomas (@s_thomas14) April 1, 2021
The whole tournament, the Wildcats have been called a one-player show. and even UConn coach Geno Auriemma described Arizona as “Gladys Knight and the Pips” when talking about how the offense runs through guard Aari McDonald.
Although McDonald was the focal point of Arizona’s offense with her 26 points, it was the Wildcats’ roles players who stepped up when the team needed it the most.
The Wildcats had eight different players score with forwards Sam Thomas and Cate Reese combining for 23 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
Here are Adia Barnes and McDonald talking about advancing to the title game against Stanford and discussing how the team was able to slow down the Huskies’ offense:
The “Pips” came up big for Arizona, going 13-for-33 from the field and collecting 29 rebounds against a tough rebounding UConn team.
Arizona’s swarming defense did something that no other team this season has done by holding the Huskies to a season-low 36 percent from the field. A consistent diet of McDonald and Thomas slowed down AP Player of the Year Paige Bueckers to 18 points going 5-for-13 from the field.
Here are Thomas and Helena Pueyo talking about the team effort in Friday’s win and discussing the feeling knowing that they’ll be playing in the national title game:
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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.