Arizona Women's Basketball

ARIZONA NOTES: Louisville first Final Four team defeated by Wildcats in regular season

Adia Barnes may have a roster with seven new players in 2022-23 (Andy Morales/

It turns out Arizona’s 61-59 overtime win Nov. 12 over Louisville at Sioux Falls, S.D., carried more significance than a win over a top 10 team at the time.

No. 1-seeded Louisville is now 29-4 and headed to the Final Four in Minneapolis after defeating Michigan 62-50 on Monday night in an Elite Eight game at Wichita, Kan.

The Cardinals’ accomplishment means they are the first team Arizona has defeated in the regular season to later advance to the Final Four.

That almost happened in 2003-04 when Stanford advanced to the Midwest Region final after losing to Arizona 88-83 that season at McKale Center. The Cardinal lost to Tennessee 62-60 in the Elite Eight game.

Back in early November, the 21st-ranked Wildcats upset the No. 6 Cardinals behind Cate Reese’s 21 points in Arizona’s first game against an AP Top 25 team since playing No. 1 Stanford in the NCAA championship game seven months prior.

Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with 19 points.

New ASU coach familiar with Adia Barnes

Recently-hired ASU coach Natasha Adair met the Phoenix-area media Monday in her first press conference as the Sun Devils’ coach. The former College of Charleston, Georgetown and Delaware head coach mentioned that she knows a few coaches in the Pac-12, including Arizona’s Adia Barnes.

She is the third African-American head coach in the Pac-12, including Barnes and California’s Charmin Smith

“I do know Charmin Smith and I do know Adia Barnes, but I also know (UCLA coach) Cori Close and (Stanford coach) Tara VanDerveer,” Adair said. “I’m very familiar with the coaches in this league, next level coaches, and I will tell you, it’s a community. Since I’ve signed on to be the head women’s basketball coach, everyone in the Pac-12 has reached out and that speaks volumes for this conference, for the competitiveness and who they are as people.”  

Barnes’ tweeted this response Sunday following the news of Adair’s hire: “Welcome to the Pac-12 Coach Adair! Now you can throw away all of those winter clothes!”

Adair’s history as a college player and coach is exclusively east of the Mississippi.

Adair and Close were part of the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team coaching staff that was led by Louisville’s Jeff Walz.

Transfer potentially coming in and after some went out

Gone are four players to the transfer portal — Anna Gret Asi, Derin Erdogan, Koi Love and Aaronette Vonleh — leaving three open scholarship spots counting toward the 15 allotted by the NCAA.

A day after it was reported that those four players are leaving the program, Barnes retweeted a tweet posted by the father of Lauren Fields, an Oklahoma State guard who is in the transfer portal. Barnes and assistant coach Ashley Davis, who came to Arizona from Oklahoma State after last season, were pictured with the Fields family.

Fields, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged a team-best 15.4 points per game. She also averaged 4.1 rebounds a game. Rebounding is an area Barnes wants to improve going into 2022-23 after the Wildcats were outrebounded by an average of 33.6 to 32.6 this season.

Fields’ defense falls in line with Barnes’ principles with her averaging 2.5 steals per game.

Arizona’s scholarship players as of now for 2022-23 including four incoming recruits:

  • Shaina Pellington, PG, Sr.
  • Taylor Chavez, SG, Sr.
  • Madison Conner, SG, Soph.
  • Helena Pueyo, G, Sr.
  • Bendu Yeaney, G, Sr.
  • Cate Reese, F, Sr.
  • Gisela Sanchez, F, Soph.
  • Lauren Ware, C, Jr.
  • Maya Nnaji, F, Fr.
  • Kailyn Gilbert, PG, Fr.
  • Lemyah Hylton, SG, Fr.
  • Paris Clark, G, Fr.

Dr. Nnaji, I presume

Nnaji, a McDonald’s All-American as well as Clark, was recently admitted into Arizona’s Accelerated Pathway to Medical Education (APME) program in the College of Medicine.

The younger sister of former Arizona men’s standout Zeke Nnaji is the first women’s basketball player in the program’s history to be accepted into the APME program.

Maya, a senior at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minn., has shown well before this accomplishment that she is beyond her years.

She provides care packages to homeless people across Minneapolis. She is a writer who is reportedly working on a novel on civil rights and police brutality. She is also a trustee in the Nnaji Family Foundation, which is building basketball courts and educational centers across Nigeria.

Parents Apham and Janel, take Maya, younger sister Josie and Zeke, who now plays for the Denver Nuggets, on regular trips to Apham’s native Nigeria. All three children are also musically inclined — Maya has sung the national anthem, Zeke is a virtuoso piano player who has played in front of the McKale Center crowd and Josie plays the piano and guitar. 

Josie, a Class of 2025 guard at Hopkins High, has already been offered a scholarship from Barnes.

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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