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How Arizona basketball reached the 2021 women’s Final Four

The Arizona Wildcats are headed to the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament. We break down how they got there, with key players and critical moments throughout the season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Elite Eight-Indiana at Arizona Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a proverbial Cinderella story in San Antonio this year, it’s Adia Barnes’ Arizona Wildcats. After a shaky end to the regular season, the team rattled off four straight victories to earn their first trip to the Final Four in program history.

Here’s how they got here...

Regular season

The Wildcats jetted out to 11-2 start to the regular season with lone hiccups coming in the form of a 27-point beatdown loss to fellow Final Four participant Stanford on New Year’s Day and a 71-69 overtime road loss at Washington State just over a week later. Like so many teams around the country, UA was forced to sit out for roughly two weeks due to COVID and promptly won four straight out of the break.

However, the team suffered back-to-back losses to end the regular season and after taking out Washington State in the Pac-12 Tournament, there were promptly bounced by UCLA 58-49 in the semifinals.

NCAA Tournament

As a three-seed in the Mercado Region, the Wildcats picked up wins over Stony Brook and BYU to earn their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 1998. From there, they easily dispatched of Texas A&M by 15 before taking down Indiana 66-53 in the Elite Eight to get to where they are now.

Key players

The engine for Arizona has been 2021 Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Aari McDonald, who averaged 20.3, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists om the year. The Fresno, CA, native dropped 33 points and 11 rebounds in their emotional Elite Eight victory over Indiana.

Also averaging double digits is Cate Reese, who is putting up 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game for Arizona. Trinity Baptiste and Sam Thomas are also providing a defensive presence for the group, combining for 3.4 steals a game.