Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona completes first Bay area sweep in 23 years with rout of California

Esmery Martinez (left) and Jada Williams celebrate Arizona’s 87-68 win over California; the duo combined for 38 points (Arizona Athletics photo)

Arizona completed its first Bay area sweep since 2000-01, when the Wildcats last beat perennial powerhouse Stanford on the road, with an 87-68 rout Sunday of California at Haas Pavilion.

The Wildcats, playing with mostly seven players once again (recent walk-on addition Brooklyn Rhodes was inserted late in the fourth quarter), were led by 20 points from Esmery Martinez and 18 from Jada Williams (Friday’s hero in the upset win over No. 3 Stanford).

Arizona’s other double-figure scorers against California were Skylar Jones (12 points), Isis Beh (11) and Helena Pueyo (10).

Arizona (16-12, 8-8 Pac-12) did not trail after 1:56 remained in the first quarter, answering any doubt early of a letdown after the 68-61 upset of Stanford. The Wildcats have won four consecutive games.

“I just think all about this time of year is peaking at the right time and we’re playing some of our best basketball at the right time,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said in the 1290-AM postgame show. “We should be in the (NCAA) tournament. We really want to make a push for that. I think our momentum is good and we’re just getting better and better.

“I am just so proud of the way we came in here after really high high on Friday (beating Stanford).”

The Wildcats took control of the game by outscoring California 24-6 to start the second quarter, building a 44-23 lead at that point.

Martinez had 11 points and four assists in the pivotal second quarter, allowing Arizona to take a 52-28 lead into halftime.

California (16-12, 6-10) committed 11 turnovers and shot 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the second quarter, of which Arizona outscored the Golden Bears 19-0 in points off turnovers.

Arizona built its first-half lead despite minor ankle injuries suffered by Pueyo and Jones, both of whom returned to play in the second half.

The Wildcats also had to play through the foul trouble of their frontcourt players Martinez, Beh and Breya Cunningham — all of whom finished with four fouls.

On top of that, guard Kailyn Gilbert was back in Tucson because of concussion protocol.

“I think we just did a good job of playing unselfish and I think they (her team) got really mad because Esmery got elbowed right in the face,” Barnes said. “It was a very, very physical game. I think they were kind of having each other’s back and just really womaned up and found a way.

“They really wanted to win this game. They wanted to punch.”

Arizona shot 56.3 percent from the field, 50 percent (5 of 10) from 3-point range. California also shot 50 percent but was 11 of 28 (39.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats also only had 11 turnovers to California’s 22 and they outrebounded the Golden Bears 28-25.

Arizona dominated in the paint 42-22 and outscored the Golden Bears 14-5 in second-chance points and 31-10 in points off turnovers.

Williams, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of the win over Stanford on Friday, produced 10 points in the third quarter to keep Arizona well in front.

After California cut the lead to 56-39 with 4:14 left in the third quarter, Williams scored 10 of Arizona’s last 12 points in the quarter to help her team lead 68-46 going into the fourth quarter.

“She really is a fighter and a dog and not afraid of anybody,” Barnes said of Williams. “I love the level she’s playing. I love how she wants to attack and wanted to win. … I just love everything about how she’s playing and leading our team.”

Arizona will look to keep its momentum going Thursday night when USC and JuJu Watkins visit McKale Center at 6 p.m.

The Wildcats’ 81-64 loss at USC on Feb. 12 was their last defeat.

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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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