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Roundtable: What was the best Arizona sports moment of the 2021-22 season?

Nathanial Stenchever

Dalen Terry, a player on the Arizona men’s basketball team cuts down his part of the net after the game on Saturday, March 5 in McKale Center. The Wildcats are ranked second in the nation for men’s basketball.

The Daily Wildcat Sports Desk each gave their pick for the best Arizona sports moment of the 2021-22 season. 

Ryan Wohl: MBB winning the Pac-12 Tournament championship 

Throughout the 2021-22 men’s basketball season, there were some great moments and some bad ones, but the one in particular that stands out to me is the Wildcats beating UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament championship in Las Vegas. Being in the T-Mobile arena for that contest was an incredible experience seeing the joy on head coach Tommy Lloyd, Bennedict Mathurin and Dalen Terry’s faces let us feel how big of an accomplishment it was to them and the university. 

This win was even more special for Arizona’s men’s basketball program because it was their first Pac-12 tournament championship since 2018. This was after the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 and the Arizona program decided to self-impose a postseason ban a season ago. 

This contest had a big game feel being the trilogy between the two best teams in the conference of champions throughout the entire regular season. Some big games across all sports do not live up to the hype, but this time it lived up to the hype and more. 

CJ Lala: MBB winning the Pac-12 Tournament championship

One season after a self-imposed postseason ban kept Arizona out of the PAC-12 tournament, first-year Head Coach Tommy Lloyd and Arizona found themselves in the championship game facing UCLA. This was the third time this season the two teams faced each other, splitting both games as each team won on their home court. This match up was on a neutral floor in Las Vegas, but this game felt more like an Arizona home game on multiple occasions “U of A” chants would drown out the sound of the UCLA band. The final game of the season between these two great teams did not disappoint the first half was back and forth, but UCLA took a five-point lead into halftime. A big second half from Bennedict Mathurin and Dalen Terry who combined for 32 points in the second half. Their impressive offensive production to go along with 4 second-half blocks from Christian Koloko led Arizona to an 84-76 victory capturing Lloyd’s first and Arizona’s 17 PAC-12 championship. 

Sam Gillman: Arizona football winning their first game in two seasons

The 2021 season for the Arizona football team may not be a season Wildcat fans want to remember, but if there’s one thing we should remember about the season, it’s their only victory against University of California, Berkeley on November 6, 2021, at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats won with a score of 10-3. The game was tied 3-3 going into the 4th quarter, but a 10-yard TD run by sophomore running back Michael Wiley changed the game for the better as Wildcat fans in attendance were going wild. As the game was dwindling to the final minutes, the ZonaZoo section was getting ready to storm the field after the victory. Once the clock hit zero seconds, students hopped the barricade and ran onto the field to celebrate with the team. Some may say that the Wildcats got this victory because about half of Cal’s starters had COVID-19 at the time, so they weren’t at full strength. But that didn’t stop the Wildcats from earning a victory this season. Arizona finished with a record of 1-11 and hope to bounce back in the 2022 season. 

Jill Aguilera (14), a senior on the Arizona soccer team, dribbles up the field after receiving a pass from a teammate at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Oct. 15. The Wildcats went on to lose the game 1-4.
Jill Aguilera (14), a senior on the Arizona soccer team, dribbles up the field after receiving a pass from a teammate at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium on Oct. 15. The Wildcats went on to lose the game 1-4.

Asher Bookspan: Jill Aguilera broke University of Arizona history in her final game. 

As the reporter for Arizona soccer, I had the unique opportunity of watching Jill Aguilera play during her final season with the University of Arizona. She had returned for her senior year and needed nine goals to make history. 

Coming into the final game of the season against ASU, Aguilera needed one goal to tie and two to make history. As the leading scorer for the team, it was clear that the team had one plan from the start. Aguilera scored her first goal, tying the record in the 13th minute on a free-kick that went right over ASU’s keeper’s head to score her 32nd career goal. 

Head coach Becca Moros after the game said the plan was called “feeding the beast” with Aguilera being the beast. After ASU tied the game 1-1 in the 82nd minute and took the game to overtime. Early in the overtime period, Iliana Hocking had an opportunity to win it but could not convert. Moments after there was a handball called on ASU which meant Arizona had their pick of who was going to take the penalty kick. 

Consistent with the game plan, Moros called on Aguilera’s number once again to try and end the game. Aguilera lined up the shot, saw that the goalkeeper had already made the wrong read, and easily shot the ball past her into the left side of the net to win the game and break history. Not only did she break Arizona history, but she also ended her career having never lost to ASU, going 5-0 against them during her six years with the team. 

“It means the world because all I’ve ever wanted to do is make an impact on the team in any way, shape, or form that I possibly can,” Aguilera said.

Ari Koslow: Arizona tennis team defeating No.16 Oklahoma 

My most memorable Arizona Wildcat sports moment this year was when the men’s tennis team defeated the University of Oklahoma at home back in March. Arizona was No. 28 in the country at the time and the Sooners were the No. 16 ranked team in the country. The community packed the seats of the Robson Tennis Center to help lead Arizona past Oklahoma in a tight 4-3 match. It was one of those matches that helped carry some momentum into what went on to be an undefeated Pac-12 run and the program’s first-ever conference regular-season championship. 

Aidan Alperstein: MBB winning the Pac-12 Tournament championship

The 2021-2022 Arizona Men’s basketball season was full of wins, but the championship victory over the UCLA Bruins to earn a Pac-12 championship was one I’ll never forget. The game was back and forth throughout, and it seemed the Bruins had all the momentum as Johnny Juzang hit a buzzer-beater to end the first half to take a five-point lead. However, Bennedict Mathurin put on a second-half show with great plays, one noting the right-wing 3-pointer off a back screen by Oumar Ballo. Another memorable play was Dalen Terry’s backdoor pass to Pelle Larsson late in the game. Seeing the emotion on the player’s faces throughout was terrific as they had been fighting all year and got the result they wanted. Arizona defeated UCLA 84-76 to win the tournament. 

Jake Faigus: Arizona MBB winning the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championship’s 

I think the best Arizona sports moments are a tie for when Arizona basketball won the Pac-12 in both the regular season and the tournament. It’s tough to pick one over the other, but I’m combining the two because they both represent that head coach Tommy Lloyd brought Arizona back in his first season. Arizona had a bumpy road in men’s basketball the last few years, and it feels like the fit solidified itself early on this year, but also these two accomplishments represent that the future is bright with Tommy Lloyd at the helm. 

Lloyd implemented a fast-paced offensive system and an aggressive style of defense that seemed to fit perfectly with the personnel that Arizona has to offer. Lloyd now can continue to implement and improve on his system while also recruiting his own guys, which should take this team to even higher expectations. The regular-season title showed Lloyd had arrived and the tournament title showed that the team was resilient because they were missing their starting point guard, Kerr Kriisa. The bottom line is, that the future is bright.

Jason Harris, a sophomore on the University of Arizona Football team, runs up the middle for the only touchdown of the day on Nov. 6 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats went on to win the game 10-3 snapping the 20 game losing streak.
Jason Harris, a sophomore on the University of Arizona Football team, runs up the middle for the only touchdown of the day on Nov. 6 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats went on to win the game 10-3 snapping the 20 game losing streak.

Delaney Penn: Arizona football winning their first game in two seasons

The best sports moment this year has to be when Arizona football got their first and only win of the season against University of California, Berkeley. The excitement of that game was unlike any other feeling. I always wondered what campus felt like when our football team won and I finally got to experience it. I stood in the front row of that game because I got there an hour early so I could have a good seat. I could feel the excitement building as it got close to game time. I remember it being super hot because it was an afternoon game on a Saturday. 

The first quarter was exciting but the second and third were very slow. The game picked up in the fourth quarter when we scored off a handoff and extra point making the final score 10-3. It was the first game Arizona had won in two years. The second the game was over the crowd, including myself rushed the field by jumping off the wall screaming with joy. The players celebrated head coach Jedd Fisch by dumping Gatorade on him. We finally won, we were finally winners. The campus that day was swarming with people celebrating the win. I ran into a few players that I know after the game. I have never seen them smile as much as they did that day. It was a moment I will never forget.

Jason Dayee: MBB winning the Pac-12 Tournament championship

My favorite sports moment from this past season has to be the men’s basketball team winning the Pac-12 championship against UCLA. This Arizona men’s basketball team was having one of their best seasons ever. Ending with a record of 31-3 as they were the No. 1 in the South entering into the NCAA tournament. This Arizona team played beautiful basketball in every moment of that Pac-12 championship game the passion the players showed resembled that of the 2001 team. The back and forth play that happened in the game showed how resilient of a team UCLA was, but they were still no match for the Wildcats who in the second half pulled away, outsourcing the Bruins 49-36 and closing out the game strongly. The Wildcats finished the game with a final score of 84-76 UCLA.

This team battled all season and was able to achieve another 30-win-season, which had not been done for five years. This team was led by Bennedict Mathurin who led the team in scoring and their defensive anchor Christian Koloko. This team is one of the most complete and talented teams since the 2001 Wildcats. First, they won the regular-season championship and then followed it up with an epic showdown in the Pac-12 tournament and won the championship there as well. This Arizona Wildcats team had all of the potential in the world.

Devin Homer: MBB winning the Pac-12 Tournament championship

My favorite Arizona moment was the men’s basketball team overachieving and silencing doubters. Experts picked UCLA to win the Pac-12 but Arizona had different plans. Arizona would finish the year, [33-4, 18-2 Pac-12]. The Wildcats won the regular-season Pac-12 championship and would go to Las Vegas and win the Pac-12 tournament championship. After securing the two championships, Arizona would be a number one seed going into March Madness. 

Arizona would win the first game by 17 but would be in a battle in the round of 32 against TCU. The Wildcats would win in overtime by 5 points and move onto the Sweet 16 against Houston. Arizona would end up losing in the Sweet 16 but the season wasn’t a disappointment. The Wildcats silenced the doubters and were the best Pac-12 team without a doubt. 

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