Arizona isn’t alone in being Oregon’d. The Wildcats are merely the latest.
Friday’s 85-52 loss to the third-ranked Ducks in Eugene, Oregon, put the Wildcats among a list of accomplished teams to fall victim to one of the nation’s top teams.
Three weeks ago, Oregon beat No. 6 Stanford 87-55. And just Monday, fourth-ranked the Ducks beat UConn 74-56 — the Huskies’ worst home loss in program history.
No. 12 Arizona seemed to know it was up against a major challenge. Coach Adia Barnes said all week there was “no pressure” to win, because, at least on paper, the Wildcats were heavy underdogs.
When the Wildcats were in the midst of the Pac-12 gauntlet, playing three top-10 teams in three games last month, Barnes said there was a distinct difference between a top-10 and a top-5 team.
Top 5 teams “make you pay for every mistake. I think top teams don’t have one player you have to stop; they have multiple players,” she said. “They may have one post, one guard, one shooter — it’s just they have so many more weapons, and that’s the difference.”
Oregon had it all on Friday — the scoring, the rebounding, and a dreaded 2-3 zone defense.
The Wildcats were out-rebounded 40-24, giving up 13 second-chance points. The normally collected Wildcats were disrupted by Oregon’s zone.
“They made us pay for every mistake,” Barnes said after the game on the radio. “There is a reason why we’re (No.) 12 in the country. There is a reason why they’re (third), and we came here and got killed.
“Now, does that change the season? No, we just got to be able to compete when you’re playing against No. (3), you can’t make those mental mistakes. And those are things I’m disappointed in. We have to learn from it and get better.”
Arizona had some bright spots. Aari McDonald extended her double-digit scoring streak to 59 consecutive games. She finished 13 points, three steals and six assists.
Cate Reese scored a team-high 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. And Arizona held Oregon slightly under its scoring average of 86 points. The Wildcats have now held all their league opponents under their scoring average
Arizona (18-4, 7-4) will try to turn things around Sunday, when it takes on No. 9 Oregon State (19-4, 7-4) in Corvallis. The Wildcats and Beavers are tied for fourth place in the Pac-12 standings.
Wildcats’ Pellington earns Olympic bid
Shaina Pellington became the first player in UA program history to qualify for the Summer Olympics on Saturday, as Team Canada qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games with an 80-50 win over Sweden.
Pellington scored 11 points, added four rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes. She contributed seven points, four rebounds and an assist in Thursday’s win over Belgium.
Pellington said earlier this season that it was special to represent her country. She was born in Pickering, Ontario and spent the first two seasons of her college career at Oklahoma. Pellington is sitting out the 2019-20 season because of transfer rules.
”I’ve worked my entire life to be able to put on that jersey and to call myself a national team member,” she said earlier this season. “To represent your country — you represent a whole diverse group of different individuals who share the same value and grew up in the same place. I’m honored.”
Wild Friday night in Pac-12 action
There was a little movement in the standings following a wild Friday night. Tenth-ranked UCLA beat No. 6 Stanford by 10 points, meaning the teams are now tied for second place in the league at 9-2.
If the season were to end today, UCLA would get the nod for second place based on head-to-head competition. The Bruins only play Stanford and the Oregon schools once apiece.
In Corvallis, Oregon State beat No. 19 ASU 64-62 thanks to an off-balance game-winning shot from Mikayla Pivec with 0.4 seconds left. Teammate Aleah Goodman inbounded the ball to Pivec inside the free-throw line, who touched it and aimed for the basket. The ball bounced off the rim and as everyone waited … and then fell through the net to give OSU a two-point win.
The Dawn Staley Award midseason watch list was cut down to 15 players on Friday. McDonald claimed a spot, as did Oregon star
- Sabirina Ionescu.
- Both Oregon and Arizona wore black long-sleeved warm up T-shirts on Friday to honor Kobe Bryant