TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)No. 11 Arizona considers its televised 57-41 victory over No. 10 Oregon on Thursday night a boost for the program and Pac-12 conference.
”From a national perspective, this was a good statement win,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said.
”A lot of people don’t see the Pac-12. … For Arizona to bounce back after a tough loss on the road and show character and not to lose our confidence was important for us.”
Aari McDonald scored 16 points, Trinity Baptiste had 14 points and six rebounds and Sam Thomas had 10 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats (9-2, 7-2 Pac-12), who scored 17 of the first 19 points and led by as many as 21 in snapping a 10-game losing streak in the series.
”From the first quarter, I knew we were controlling the game,” McDonald said. ”We had them flustered, and I’ve never seen Oregon players flustered like that. Everybody was locked in, and everybody wanted this win bad.”
Nyara Sabally had 15 points and seven rebounds and Sydney Parrish had seven points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (9-3, 7-3), whose previous season low in scoring was in a 70-63 loss to No. 1 Stanford. They have lost three of four for the first time since 2016-17.
The Wildcats entered the game having lost two of three, a blowout to Stanford and an overtime loss to No. 25 Washington State last Sunday in a game the Wildcats led by double-digits in the second half.
They were ready.
McDonald had six points during a 14-0 run as Arizona took a 17-2 lead seven minutes into the game. Oregon went 8 1/2 minutes between field goals and trailed 22-7 after the first quarter. It was 36-22 at the half, and Oregon was never closer than 11 in the second half.
”We know that Oregon is a great offensive team,” McDonald said. ”So we knew for us to even be in the game, we had to come out strong. We were clicking on all cylinders.”
McDonald has scored in double figures in 77 straight games, the longest active streak in the NCAA. She leads the Pac-12 in points and assists per game and is the NCAA’s leading active scorer.
Oregon had a season-high 23 turnovers and shot 32.6%. Ducks leading scorer Erin Boley, who was averaging 12.5 points, was scoreless in 12 minutes.
”We played scared,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. ”They were the aggressor the whole game. There was very little good that came out of the game.”
BRINGING OUT THE BEST
Aari McDoald has averaged 25.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals in seven games against Oregon in her career. She has a 34-point against the Ducks in each of the last two seasons.
”I think big-time players show up in big-time games, and that quote kind of just stayed with me,” McDonald said. ”Every time we play Oregon I just bring it.”
Oregon has lost three of its last four, although that should not necessarily raise alarm bells. The Ducks’ losses have come to three teams ranked in the top 11 in the AP poll, and two were on the road – against No. 1 Stanford in Santa Cruz, California, on Jan. 8 and at Arizona.
Arizona rebounded decisively after losing a double-digit lead in an overtime loss to Washington State last Sunday and should return to the top 10 after a one-week absence. The Wildcats, who were ranked as high as No. 6 in mid-December, have won four of their last six against top-10 opponents.
Oregon will host Washington State on Jan. 21. The Cougars are 25th in the AP Top 25, moving into the poll for the first time in school history after beating Arizona last Sunday.
Arizona will host Oregon State on Sunday in what would be the Beavers’ first game in 29 days. Oregon State’s last six scheduled games have been postponed because of COVID-19 issues, including one at Arizona State on Thursday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.