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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona women’s basketball falls 77-63 to Oregon in Pac-12 Tournament


    The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team saw its 2018-19 season come to an end with a 77-63 loss in the Pac-12 Tournament to the No. 1 seeded Oregon Ducks.

    “I’m really proud of our team’s heart, our team’s effort,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “We played 40 minutes as hard as we could. Was it perfect? No. We knew today we had to play 40 minutes of perfect basketball to win this game, and we didn’t.”

    At the end of the first quarter, Oregon lead 19-14. If not for some sloppy play, the ‘Cats could have found themselves with a lead. They were getting stops but weren’t converting on the other end. Rebounds were also a problem – the team had just one at the end of the first frame. 

    At halftime, the Wildcats trailed 40-28. At one point in the quarter, the ‘Cats trailed by only one, but at half, they found themselves down by 12. Redshirt sophomore Aari McDonald accounted for all but four of Arizona’s points, with 18 points and three assists.

              RELATED: Women’s basketball makes statement, beats USC in first round of Pac-12 Tournament

    The Wildcats cut the Ducks’ lead down to seven but still trailed 60-53 heading into the fourth quarter. Every time it looked as though Oregon was about to run away with their lead, the ‘Cats would get a few stops, then a few buckets, to keep it close.

    In the fourth, the Ducks were just too much for the Wildcats, who struggled to find scoring outside of McDonald. A quick 6-0 run from Oregon put them in the driver seat, and they never looked back, going on to win by 14.

    McDonald finished with 34 points, which tied the best single-game scoring performance in tournament history. Her 34 points also moved her into seventh place on the conference’s single season scoring list with 774, passing names like Kelsey Plum and her opponent on Friday afternoon, Sabrina Ionescu.

    “She’s very, very difficult to guard,” Barnes said of McDonald. “I don’t know anybody in the country who can guard her one on one, so usually they don’t. Usually they guard her four on one.”

    One of the biggest problems the ‘Cats faced throughout the season was finding scoring from players not named Aari McDonald. On Friday, this fact reared its ugly head once again, as only one player had double-digit points for the Wildcats aside from McDonald: freshman Cate Reese, who finished with 12.

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    Oregon head coach Kelly Graves was very complimentary of the Wildcats and their performance after the game:

    “First of all, I want to congratulate Arizona on a well played tournament and a well played game today. They played really hard, no question about it,” he said. “I think coach Adia has done a really good job there; she’s building something that looks a little bit like ours did a couple years ago, so I think that’s going to be a team to be reckoned with for the next few years.”

    The Wildcats now look ahead to the postseason, where Barnes thinks the team has “given themselves a chance” for the NCAA Tournament, with the WNIT being a more realistic possibility. Either way, the ‘Cats look forward to more basketball.

    “Whatever happens, happens,” Barnes said. “Whether it’s the NCAA Tournament, or the NIT, we’re gonna try to go win it.”

    After a disappointing season last year, in which Arizona only won two games in the Pac-12, six overall, this season was a welcome improvement. The ‘Cats have themselves in position to be, like Kelly Graves said, a “team to be reckoned with” for many years to come.

    Follow Noah Auclair on Twitter

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