Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 8 Arizona looking for historic win in anticipated rematch with No. 2 Stanford

Exactly 300 days ago, Aari McDonald’s last-second 3-pointer against a triple-team of defenders hit off the back of the rim at San Antonio and fell out.

Stanford’s players jubilantly celebrated a national championship while Arizona lamented a near opportunity of claiming a title.

The anguish of coming so close, losing 54-53, was only temporary because the Wildcats and Adia Barnes emerged from the darkness of women’s basketball to the spotlight as the game’s darlings on a national stage during their magical March Madness run.

Arizona, a moribund program right before Barnes’ hire in 2016, became as vivacious as ever numerous times in the intense see-saw game against its Pac-12 nemesis down 11 points in the first half, 10 in the third quarter and then nine early in the fourth quarter.

Barnes’ popularity nationally transcended sports throughout the run, especially with her taking care of her newborn daughter through it all.

“I represented moms — you can coach, you can be at an elite level, just like I do,” she said emotionally after the game. “I represent black females who don’t get here too often and don’t have opportunities. I had an opportunity today on the biggest stage and represented a lot.”

No. 2 Stanford (15-3, 6-0 Pac-12) and No. 8 Arizona (15-2, 5-2) will meet Sunday at Maples Pavilion for the first time since that day 300 days ago, April 4. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and on radio at KTUC (1400-AM). The broadcast can also be accessed online at The Varsity Network or at the KTUC website.

The Cardinal has won seven consecutive games while Arizona has won its last three games after losing in overtime at Oregon.

Stanford All-American Haley Jones leads her team in scoring (13.1 points a game, tied with Cameron Brink) and in rebounding (8.2).

She recalled with Bay area reporters that the national title game against Arizona was not the prettiest game. The Cardinal had 21 turnovers and Arizona shot 28 percent from the field.

“Whenever we think about the Final Four, we’re like, ‘That wasn’t even very good basketball for us,’” Jones said. “Luckily we won and it shows we were able to grind it out, because I don’t think it was a pretty game for either team.

“When I re-watch the game, I’m like, ‘How did we pull it out?’ Our offense was not sharp, we had so many turnovers we usually don’t make, so many defensive breakdowns. It was just ugly.”

The defense and talent of each team made it mostly a stalemate in a series that historically is one-sided toward Stanford.

The Cardinal owns a 72-14 lead in their series with the Wildcats and has won 36 of the last 38, including three victories last season.

The Wildcats ended a 15-year drought Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion with a win against UCLA. They will attempt on Sunday to end an 18-game losing streak at Maples Pavilion dating to Jan. 6, 2001, when Joan Bonvicini’s team won 68-65.

Three of the last five meetings have been decided by two points or less. Arizona has scored 58 or more points just once against Stanford in its last 18 meetings.

Jones and the Cardinal know Arizona will give them their best effort to finally win at Maples.

“The target on the back is welcomed,” Jones said. “You’d rather be in this position than any other position. We’re not complacent. Now that we’ve won (a national title), we want to win again.”


Arizona — Adia Barnes achieved her 100th win at Arizona earlier this month in her sixth season at her alma mater. Her record is 104-68 (which is also her career mark). Making that record especially impressive is the fact that Barnes started 20-40 in her first two seasons of rebuilding the program. She reached 100 wins faster than any other coach in program history at 166 games. Joan Bonvicini held the former record at 181 games. Barnes trails only Bonvicini for the most wins in Arizona history. Bonvicini was 287-223 from 1991-2008.

Stanford — Tara VanDerveer is in her 36th season at Stanford with a record of 988-207. Overall, in 43 years, she has the most coaching wins in women’s college basketball history with a record of 1,140-258. She was also 42-14 with Idaho in 1978-79 and 1979-80 and 110-37 at Ohio State from 1980-85. She has won three national championships at Stanford. The title earned last season was her first since 1991-92.


— Continue to look for plays designed to get Sam Thomas more looks from beyond the arc. She is coming off a 9-of-13 performance from 3-point range in the sweep of Utah and Colorado last weekend at McKale Center and a 5-of-6 showing on Wednesday at UCLA. She is 16 of 23 (.696) from beyond the arc in her last four games. She was 17 of 45 (.377) in Arizona’s previous 13 games. Against UCLA, Thomas became only the fourth Arizona player to reach 200 3-pointers in a career behind Lisa Griffith (285), Davellyn White (274) and Aimee Grzyb (208). Thomas now has 204.

Shaina Pellington is averaging 16.6 points per game in Pac-12 games coming off consecutive 20-point outings against Colorado (28 points) and UCLA (20). She is also shooting a phenomenal 55.8 percent from the field in conference games. Her ability to penetrate and score opens Arizona’s offense for her teammates, and Thomas and Cate Reese benefitted mostly from that against Utah and Colorado. In the national title game against Stanford, Pellington had a breakout performance for the Wildcats with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

— Reese is averaging 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds a game in Pac-12 games. She achieved her 19th career double-double — tied for fourth-most in program history — with 12 points and 10 rebounds against UCLA.

— Stanford ranks 13th nationally averaging 5.8 blocks per game. It ranks 13th with 105 blocks overall, 11th in field goal percentage defense (34.6) and ninth in rebound margin (plus-9.7).

Cameron Brink is 24th nationally averaging 2.2 blocks per game. Lexie Hull ranks second in the Pac-12 with 40 steals.


— Brink’s 55.3 shooting percentage is 27th in the nation.

Hannah Jump leads the league and is 23rd nationally in made 3-pointers (50). Jump did not play Friday in the 78-50 win over Arizona State at Maples Pavilion because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols. No word on whether she will be available for Sunday’s game.

Haley Jones has led her team in scoring five times this season and in assists eight times. The Cardinal is 33-3 when Jones has at least three assists. She notched the program’s first triple-double in nearly two decades against Portland (17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists).

Helena Pueyo ranks second in the Pac-12 with 2.2 steals per game while Bendu Yeaney is ninth (1.8).

— The “Arizona Defense” as Adia Barnes and her players call it, has forced 15 or more turnovers in 15 of 17 games this season and have forced at least 22 turnovers five times.

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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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