Final Four: Upstart Arizona stuns UConn 69-59, advances to first women’s NCAA title game
SAN ANTONIO — Aari McDonald made sure no one will ever forget about Arizona again.
McDonald had 15 of her 26 points in the first half, setting the tone as the third-seeded Wildcats dominated top-seeded UConn 69-59 and earned their first trip to the national championship game. Arizona will play overall No. 1 seed Stanford on Sunday night in an all-Pac 12 title game.
Arizona’s defense was stifling, holding UConn to less than 36 percent shooting and limiting Paige Bueckers, who earlier this week became the first freshman honored as The Associated Press player of the year, to 18 points on 5 of 13 shooting. Christyn Williams led UConn with 20 before fouling out with 3:51 left.
After trailing by as much as 14 late in the third, a Bueckers 3 pulled UConn within 60-55 with 1:26 left. But Arizona made seven of 10 free throws from there, and Bendu Yeaney sealed the win with a strip and an easy layup.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Arizona players let out screams of joy, and players on the bench flooded onto the court.
UConn calmly ran off the court. It has not reached the title game since 2016, the longest drought since 2005-08 for the program that has won 11 national titles.
This was Arizona’s first time at the Final Four, and it had lost its only previous game against UConn — a Sweet 16 matchup in 1998, when head coach Adia Barnes was playing for the Wildcats. UConn, meanwhile, has made 13 consecutive Final Fours.
So it was probably natural for the Wildcats to be overlooked. But the NCAA needn’t have been so blatant about it.
FINAL FOUR: Stanford wins nail-biter to advance to women's NCAA title game
ANALYSIS: Stanford, South Carolina showcased best of women's sports
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