ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona upsets UConn, advances to 1st NCAA Tournament title game

Apr 2, 2021, 8:35 PM | Updated: 9:46 pm
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Aari McDonald #2 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after defeating ...
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Aari McDonald #2 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after defeating the UConn Huskies during the third quarter in the Final Four semifinal game of the 2021 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on April 02, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The No. 3 seed Arizona Wildcats toppled No. 1 seed UConn 69-59 Friday night to bring the team to its first ever trip to the women’s NCAA Tournament championship game.

Aari McDonald scored 26 points in the win. It was the Pac-12 player of the year’s 92nd straight game scoring more than 10 points.

As she has done throughout the tournament, McDonald did it all for the Wildcats with slashing drives, pinpoint shooting from long range and a defensive intensity that kept UConn in check.

Arizona will now face No. 1 seed Stanford in a fight for the national title on Sunday.

“We just believed,” McDonald said. “It was that grit. We didn’t want to go home once again, and we’re proving it.”

The Wildcats dominated from the start by getting on the board first and holding the lead over the 11-time national champions through the entire first half. A 3-pointer by McDonald pushed Arizona’s lead to 12 before UConn closed the gap to 10 on two free throws to end the half.

The Huskies were unable to overcome Arizona’s lead for the rest of the game, which at one point reached 14 points in the third quarter, the largest deficit UConn faced all season.

Arizona held UConn freshman standout and first-team All-American Paige Bueckers to five points in the first half. Bueckers finished with 18 points and her 3-pointer with 1:23 left got UConn within 60-55 in the final two minutes before Arizona closed out the win with free throws. Christyn Williams led UConn (28-2) with 20 points before fouling out.

The two programs had met once before in the tournament, back in 1998 when Arizona head coach Adia Barnes was the Wildcats point guard. UConn won that matchup and now it’s Barnes and Arizona taking the next big step to a championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Arizona Basketball

Arizona State guard Shannon Evans II (11) celebrates with the cheering crowd after a making basket ...
Wills Rice

ESPN’s Gasaway: ASU, Arizona’s best basketball transfers wins

ESPN’s John Gasaway took a stab at what he thought to be the best transfers in and out of each basketball program in Pac-12 history.
21 hours ago
Henri Veesaar, #13 of Real Madrid in action during the Adidas Next Generation Tournament Championsh...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Wildcats land Estonian big man Henri Veesaar

Henri Veesaar, a 6-foot-10 big from Estonia, committed to play for the Arizona Wildcats as part of the class of 2022.
3 days ago
Pac-12 logo on the field during the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tempe, ...
Associated Press

Pac-12 Conference suffers 36% decrease in revenue in 2020-21

The Pac-12 suffered a 36% decrease in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year due to pandemic-related cancellations in football and basketball.
8 days ago
Arizona guard Dalen Terry, right, looks to pass around Wright State guard Keaton Norris, center, du...
Arizona Sports

NBA Draft prospects: Wildcats’ Dalen Terry, Mathurin in Hollinger’s top 20

Arizona Wildcats Dalen Terry and Bennedict Mathurin were among the top 20 NBA Draft prospects ranked by John Hollinger on Wednesday.
9 days ago
Christian Koloko #35 and Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats compete for position with Ed...
Arizona Sports

Wildcats’ Bennedict Mathurin, Koloko, Terry weigh in at 2022 NBA Combine

The Wildcats' Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry got Step 1 of the 2022 NBA Combine out of the way on Wednesday.
10 days ago
Arizona Wildcats guard Bendu Yeaney #23 with the ball is defended by Arizona State Sun Devils guard...
Wills Rice

ASU leading scorer Jade Loville transfers to Arizona Wildcats

The Arizona Wildcats women's basketball team picked up a big transfer on Tuesday in Arizona State's leading scorer Jade Loville.
16 days ago
Arizona upsets UConn, advances to 1st NCAA Tournament title game