Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona looks ahead to Pac-12 tournament after loss to UCLA on Senior Night

The Wildcats stand as their seniors are honored prior to Saturday nights 61-41 loss to UCLA (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Senior Night, the final regular-season game and the last home game in McKale Center in the Pac-12 era didn’t end the way the Wildcats would have liked, as they fell to No. 8 UCLA 61-41.

Whether it was a mental and emotional letdown by Arizona, playing a very good UCLA team, or fatigue from their double-overtime loss to USC on Thursday, Arizona coach Adia Barnes couldn’t put her finger on the exact cause for the uncharacteristic play by her team.

“I’m gonna try to forget about that one really fast,” Barnes said. “That was a tough game, we did not play well. Credit to UCLA. They’re really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t in the Final Four. Coach (Cori) Close has done an incredible job. She’s built a really deep, good team that has … I don’t think they have a lot of weaknesses. They came out and they punched us and we never bounced back.

“I think Thursday took a lot out of us. That’s not an excuse but I think just mentally, like physically obviously of course it was tough but just working so hard, lose on the rebounds I think just mentally that was tough.

“We had a tough time scoring, we had a tough time moving the ball, they made everything tough for us and they controlled the boards. The only good thing we did probably today was we turned them over, then we couldn’t convert. Just a tough one that we really have to forget right now.”

Arizona (16-14, 8-10 Pac-12) now heads to Las Vegas to play in the final women’s Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

The Wildcats are a No. 7 seed in the first round of the tournament against No. 10 Washington at 7 p.m., Tucson time, on Wednesday.

The Bruins outrebounded the Wildcats 43-17 and shot 57 percent from the floor to Arizona’s 28 percent.

UCLA grabbed momentum from the start and never let go, taking a 13-0 lead over a struggling Arizona team.

The Wildcats’ first points came with 4:52 left in the first quarter when Courtney Blakely found Helena Pueyo slashing to the basket for a layup.

Prior to the game, Arizona held a senior ceremony to honor their three seniors.

Pueyo, a fifth year senior who came to Arizona as a freshman, Esmery Martinez, a second year transfer from West Virginia, and Isis Beh, who transferred to Arizona from West Virginia entering this season.

With seconds left in the game, the McKale crowd was on its feet loudly chanting “U of A, U of A” despite their team losing by 20 points to the Bruins.

“You guys never give up on us,” Barnes said when addressing the crowd at the end of the game.

“We were getting our ass kicked tonight. You guys didn’t walk out. You always stay ’til the end and supported us through losses.”

As the seniors filed into the postgame interview room, the mood was solemn.

Beh and Martinez were visibly upset.

“For me, I couldn’t have picked a better place to finish my career,” said Beh. “I really love the fans here, my coaches, and my teammates.”

Arizona senior Isis Beh with Adia Barnes, her mother and father during pregame senior ceremony (Andy Morales/

Martinez, fighting back tears said: “I’m really sad now. Arizona really took me and made me feel okay, I was home. I’m not from here. They made me feel like I was welcome here. And the players are family, like Helena, she’s my sister.”

Arizona senior Esmery Martinez during pregame senior ceremony.(Andy Morales/

Pueyo, who was recruited by assistant coach Salvo Coppa and Barnes said, ““For me, it means everything. Five years here. It’s been my house for five years, my family. I love Adia. I love Salvo. They came all the way to Spain to try to get me here. It’s a really special place. I love it. I know it’s sad because it wasn’t our best basketball, but it was just my emotions. … I love this program. I love the fans and this has been a pleasure for me.”

Arizona fifth year senior Helena Pueyo with Adia Barnes, her mother, brother and special guest Sam Thomas during senior ceremony (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Pueyo ended the game with 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, one block and six steals.

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