The University of Arizona women's basketball team defeated Texas Christian University last night 59-53 to move on to the finals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
The Wildcats beat a much bigger team with a reputation for out-muscling opponents. Arizona trailed early but took the lead five minutes into the game and did not relinquish it again.
Led by star guard Aari McDonald, it was the Arizona defense that stifled TCU, often making them look confused and hesitant. TCU out rebounded Arizona 50-33, especially on the offensive boards, but even with those extra chances, they still could not seem to figure out how to penetrate Arizona's perimeter.
Coach Adia Barnes says shutting down TCU's offense was the key to the win.
"That's kind of what we do," she says. "We're a great defensive team. We force teams to turn the ball over and we manufacture points. And as you see tonight, we had 19 points off turnovers," Barnes said.
Barnes says playing at home in the McKale Center in front of more than 10-thousand raucous fans set the stage for the victory. After the game she was asked to try to find a word to describe the atmosphere.
"Incredible. Electric, and just energized," she said. "I mean, that pumps our players up, and that ignites us."
Arizona will have a chance to put that home-field advantage to the test in the championship game against Northwestern this Saturday. It will be Wildcat against Wildcat as Arizona hosts the Northwestern Wildcats at noon at McKale.