Arizona women beat WVU to open their NCAA Tournament
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Cate Reese scored 25 points and Esmery Martinez had a double-double against her former team, helping seventh-seeded Arizona to a 75-62 victory over 10th-seeded West Virginia in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday.
The Wildcats (22-9) started fast and never trailed, and will next play the winner of Friday’s Maryland-Holy Cross game. Arizona entered the tournament on a three-game losing streak, but had a couple weeks off before this matchup.
The Wildcats seemed refreshed early on, shooting 72% from the field in the first quarter. West Virginia was holding opponents to 61 points per game this season, but Arizona looked ready to breeze past that after just one quarter and a 28-17 lead.
The Mountaineers (19-12) eventually settled in. It was a seven-point game at halftime, and Arizona’s lead was down to three early in the third. Wildcats guard Shaina Pellington picked up her third and fourth fouls a few seconds apart in the third, but after two free throws by West Virginia made it 42-39, Arizona eventually pulled away again.
It was 61-51 after a foul-filled third quarter, and then the Wildcats scored the first seven points of the fourth. It was 68-57 when Pellington finally returned; she finished with 18 points.
Martinez, who played three seasons at West Virginia before transferring to Arizona, had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
JJ Quinerly led West Virginia with 19 points.
West Virginia: Coach Dawn Plitzuweit guided South Dakota to the Sweet 16 last year, but a run like that didn’t materialize with the Mountaineers. They were playing catch-up from the start.
Arizona: The Wildcats were in the national title game two seasons ago, so a No. 7 seed isn’t exactly what they had in mind, but they were able to impose their will offensively for long enough to win comfortably in this one.
Arizona lost at home in the second round last year to North Carolina. Now there’s a good chance the Wildcats will be playing a road game if Maryland beats Holy Cross.