From snubbed to victorious, Arizona is headed to college basketball’s biggest stage.
The Wildcats, who were omitted from the NCAA’s Final Four hype video, upset mighty UConn in Friday’s semifinal, 69-59, to advance to the women’s national championship game.
Like it has been all season, Arizona leaned senior guard Aari McDonald. The second-team All-American led all scorers with 26 points on 7-for-17 shooting, with seven rebounds and two steals. For the tournament, McDonald is averaging 25.4 points per game.
UConn’s Paige Bueckers, who became the first freshman to win The Associated Press women’s player of the year this season, struggled for most of the night. She finished with 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting, with six rebounds, four assists and three turnovers.
Arizona led by as many as 14 in the third quarter, giving UConn its largest deficit of the season. The Huskies cut the Wildcats’ lead to nine by the end of the third and were within five in the final two minutes, but could not cut it to a one-possession game. Arizona never trailed and limited the Huskies to just 35.7% shooting from the field.
A key moment came in the last four minutes when junior guard Christyn Williams fouled out on a questionable call. Williams was UConn’s second-leading scorer this season and finished the night with a team-high 20 points on 7-for-17 from the field.
For the fourth consecutive tournament, UConn has been eliminated in the national semifinal. This ties the program’s longest title-less drought since Geno Auriemma’s first championship with the school in 1995.
Before this run, Arizona had never before been to a Final Four. Now, the Wildcats are one win away from capturing their first-ever national championship.
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