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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Contrasting styles clash in Elite Eight matchup, what to watch for as Arizona women’s basketball meets No. 4 seed Indiana

Shaina+Pellington+drives+to+the+basket+after+a+crossover+to+shake+a+USC+defender+on+Sunday%2C+Dec.+6%2C+2020%2C+in+Tucson%2C+Ariz.%2C+in+McKale+Center.+%28Courtesy+of+Mike+Christy%2FArizona+Athletics%29

Shaina Pellington drives to the basket after a crossover to shake a USC defender on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz., in McKale Center. (Courtesy of Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics)

The Arizona women’s basketball team advanced to their first Elite Eight in school history on Saturday, March 27, after beating the No. 2 seed in their region, Texas A&M, 74-59. They face an upstart Indiana team that just knocked off the No. 1 seed in their region in NC State. 

Both programs come into the game with this being their first-ever appearance in the Elite Eight, with a potentially program-defining appearance in the Final Four on the line.

Indiana is no fluke of a team. They finished 16-2 in their conference and have only lost one game since the end of January. Their best player is Mackenzie Holmes, who leads the Hoosiers in both scoring and rebounding. 

They also have a second and third option in both Grace Berger and Ali Patberg. Indiana is a team led by its offense, and they come into the game averaging 75 points a game, which will be a contrast to Arizona’s suffocating defense. 

Indiana has also been a great rebounding team all year and will cause problems for Arizona in that aspect. The Hoosiers have had a similar tournament run to the Wildcats, by facing two double-digit seeds, 13-seed VCU and 12-seed Belmont, before facing a higher seed. They also have been very balanced as a team so far, even though they do have a clear pecking order as listed above.

For Arizona, the conversation starts and ends with Aari McDonald. She led the Wildcats with 31 points in their victory over Texas A&M. She shot 50% from three-point range and over 50% overall. 

RELATED: Five key stats in the Arizona women’s basketball’s Sweet Sixteen victory over Texas A&M

The “glue” for the Wildcats has been Sam Thomas. She has filled the stat sheet all tournament long, from hitting timely shots to playing the best defense on the team on their run so far. The No. 2 option for the Wildcats all season has been Cate Reese, so she is another player to watch for Arizona, especially if Indiana keys in on McDonald all game on defense. 

Arizona has been led by its defense so far in the Tournament with holding teams to 44, 46, and 59 points, respectively. They will need to play to their level on defense to hold down a high-powered Indiana offense. This game is going to be a matchup of strength vs. strength and will be interesting to see what side can gain the advantage.


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