Arizona's Incredible Final Four Run: Sights From San Antonio
"Nobody expected us to be here anyway, so let's make the most of it!"
This was Adia Barnes' rallying cry throughout the University of Arizona women's basketball team's remarkable run to the first Final Four in program history.
Prior to Friday's game against the University of Connecticut – the most historically dominant program in women's college basketball – few people outside of Wildcat Nation gave the squad a chance to hang with the Huskies. Instead, Arizona put on a show.
Aari McDonald danced, dribbled and dashed her way through a UConn squad that was not prepared for the Wildcats' speed or defensive intensity. McDonald led all scorers with 26 points in a 69-59 victory that shocked the basketball world.
As tipoff approached in Sunday's all-Pac-12 national title showdown with the powerful Stanford Cardinal, Wildcat fans flocked to San Antonio in droves, taking their spots in the limited-capacity Alamodome to let this team know how much this run has meant to everyone who bleeds red and blue.
Stanford stormed out to a big early lead, but the tenacious Wildcats would not be deterred by some early jitters and missed shots. Each time the Cardinal would extend to a double-digit lead, McDonald, Shaina Pellington and the relentless Arizona defense would come clawing back to within striking distance.
Never give up. Never quit fighting. Nobody expected us to be here anyway.
After yet another defensive stand and a Stanford shot-clock violation (Arizona forced the Cardinal into 21 total turnovers in the game), the Wildcats found themselves down one with six seconds to go.
Everyone in the stadium and everyone watching on television knew McDonald was getting the ball. She shook free for just an instant before four Stanford players swarmed her at the three-point line. McDonald spun and let it fly from 23 feet. Everyone held their breath as the ball hung in the air seemingly forever.
Back iron. Missed it by…that much.
Stanford is the national champion. The Cardinal earned it. Congratulations.
As for the Wildcats, they captured the hearts and imaginations of basketball fans throughout the globe. The University of Arizona thanks each and every one of you. We will never forget this team. Bear down, Arizona.
We invite fans to Arizona Stadium to celebrate our Wildcats on Monday, April 5, at 11:15 a.m. Gates open at 10 a.m.
Attendance is limited to 15% capacity. We ask all attendees to wear a mask and observe social distancing. All health and safety protocols and clear bag policies will be in effect.
RSVP for the event is required.
If you can't attend, but would like to take part in the festivities, stream the event from the Arizona Athletics Facebook page.
Fans may also line up along the bus route to welcome the team buses back to campus.
- Story by Nick Prevenas/University Communications. Photos by Mike Christy/Arizona Athletics