Wildcats Win WNIT Title; Down Northwestern 56-42
Arizona led for nearly 37 minutes on Saturday en route to their first WNIT title since 1996.
It was a poetic end for the Arizona Wildcats' season in Saturday's Women's National Invitation Tournament Championship as Arizona comfortably downed Northwestern 56-42 to claim the title.
The UA victory came in front of a sold out McKale Center crowd of 14,644, which was a program record as well as the largest crowd in Pac-12 women's basketball history.
Sophomore Aari McDonald finished with a game-high 19 points, ending her season just shy of 900 points. She paced coach Adia Barnes' team to the title 23 years after Barnes helped guide the Wildcats to a NWIT crown as a player.
Cate Reese continued her outstanding play to finish the season as she scored 13 points to go along with nine rebounds. Tee Tee Starks made a pair of three-pointers and scored 12 points with five rebounds.
The capacity crowd in McKale Center was the culmination of a frenzied wave of support throughout Tucson during the program's postseason run as over 46,000 fans Arizona's six WNIT home games. Coach Barnes and the Wildcats set their program record for attendance with 10,135 fans in the semifinal win over TCU before eclipsing that with 14,644 three days later.
As it has been all season, the Wildcats' defense set the tone for Saturday's win. Northwestern shot just 26.5 percent from the field for the game as the home team also outrebounded the visiting Wildcats by 13. UA's defense was particularly strong in the second quarter, allowing just five points en route to a 30-17 edge at halftime.
The offense picked up in the third quarter for both teams, but Arizona was still able to keep their distance and took a 49-33 lead into the fourth quarter. Arizona held Northwestern to just 18% shooting in the fourth quarter and walked off the court champions.
After the game, McDonald was named WNIT MVP and Reese was named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team.
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