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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 12 Arizona WBB defeats USC in the last game of the regular season 68-59.

Nathanial Stenchever

Senior teammates Bendu Yeaney, Sam Thomas, Ariyah Copeland and Semaj Smith of the Arizona women’s basketball team stand with their coach Adia Barnes for senior pictures after beating the University of Southern California on Saturday, Feb. 26 in McKale Center. Yeaney has decided to do her graduate work at the UA and will be returning for next season.

The No. 12 Arizona women’s basketball team got a win at home in their final home game of the year on Saturday against USC on senior night 68-59. 

Sam Thomas, Ariyah Copeland and Semaj Smith were honored during a ceremony before the game. Bendu Yeaney was also honored but it was announced after the game she will return to the team next year using her extra year of eligibility from COVID-19. 

The Wildcats were led by Taylor Chavez who scored 18 points while shooting 71% from three and 100% from the free-throw line. 

“I was just in the biggest funk but the best way to get out of funk is to shoot your way out of the funk and keep going and I know I’m a capable player. I know I’m going to be given an opportunity to show that like today so it’s really just about sticking to it especially it’s such a long season and that’s something I’ve definitely learned in my four years playing,” Chavez said. 

“She was incredible offensively. She was confident. So now as a coaching staff, you’re confident and know she can do it, but Taylor is smart. She’s a great teammate. I’m so happy she’s here. I love coaching her so she’s gonna give us a lot and she’s gonna shine from now,” head coach Adia Barnes said.

Arizona didn’t shoot the ball well, shooting 35% from the field and 39% from the three. 

The difference in the game was the turnovers for Arizona. Arizona only had 6 turnovers and forced 21 turnovers and had 13 steals. The Wildcats scored 19 points off of turnovers. 

Arizona won the rebound battle, 35-32. On the offensive glass, Arizona dominated 18-6. That allowed Arizona to score 10 second-chance points. 

Thomas’s last home game was a success with a win. She scored 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists and played the entire 40 minutes. 

“She’s so special in so many ways, I’m not even talking about basketball. Basketball. She’s great. I’m talking about who she is as a young woman, who she’s evolved to be. She’s selfless. She’s a leader and she’s great in the classroom. She does the right things. I mean, I’ve never had to discipline her once. I’ve never had to tell her. ‘Oh, don’t don’t act like that, ever, ever in five years.’ I’ve never had to tell her ‘You don’t work hard’. I’ve never had to tell her ‘You don’t listen’, that is never a conversation I’ve ever had with Sam ever. And that’s that’s rare nowadays. If I could coach her for my whole career, I would,” Barnes said. 

“I think it’s just an honor to play for this university and have start every game and luckily, injuries still have a season knock on wood, but I’ve been pretty safe so far. So just been blessed with my career that I’ve had here so far. And I can’t wait to continue the few games that I have left,” Thomas said. 

Arizona now advances to the Pac-12 tournament with a first-round bye in Las Vegas on March 2-6. Their first game will be on March 3 against the winner of Colorado and Washington. 

Follow Asher Bookspan and Devin Homer on Twitter

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