Women’s NCAA Tournament Final 4: #3 Arizona defeats #1 UConn 69-59 advancing To the national championship game (4-2-21)



By: Joe Dillard Jr.

Headline Photo Courtesy: Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team

Joe Dillard Jr.-LMS Network Columnist and Host of “Commonwealth Sports Talk”

As this 2021 season has been a blessing with the sports world back in action, it would be crazy to not be hype about the Women’s Final Four with plenty of star power and this matchup between UConn and Arizona. They have 2 of the brightest stars in the game with Aarl McDonald of Arizona and Paige Bueckers of UConn. The two have been leading their teams in scoring and clutch play during this tournament run to reach the Final Four. Straight from the tip-off, Arizona showed why they are one of the best defenses in the nation holding UConn to 10 points. This was the recipe for the Lady Wildcats, but the question is can they sustain this throughout the game? Riding the hot hand of Aari McDonald who came off the bus ready led the Lady Wildcats into the half 32 to 22 against the Lady Huskies. Paige Bueckers, the Player of the year and just a freshman only had 5 points on 1 of 4 shooting in the first half. In the second half UConn came out with more energy but it’s not like Arizona was hot and it would cool off, the defense was still there, and that caused UConn one of the most efficient scoring teams to shoot 35 percent from the floor the whole game. Bueckers ended the game with 18 points on 5 of 13 shooting with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Christyn Williams led the way with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals but fouled out late as one of the few upper

class(wo)men on the roster with UConn having 7 freshmen that contributed and will be returning next season. Aari McDonald was the best player on the floor and the smallest standing at 5 feet 6 inches. The two-time reigning Pac 12 defensive player of the year led the way on both ends of the floor with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and a pair of steals. Cate Reese was very productive playing under 20 minutes but providing 11 points and 3 steals. Sam Thomas had 12 points and 5 rebounds as she is the key to their success as well. The sophomore elevated her game from freshman year and has been a great second option to the best player in Lady Wildcats history. The same 10-point margin at the half never changed as Arizona advances to the National title game 69 to 59 to face Stanford. Even though Adia Barnes was a former player at Arizona and a good one, she understands what this team has done for the program reaching its first National Title game in the school’s history. With the way Arizona is playing defense and the star power that AariMcDonald is bringing, the Lady Wildcats seem ready to capture their first national title.