Arizona reaches women’s NCAA title game with upset over UConn

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

SAN ANTONIO — Aari McDonald scored 26 points and lead a smothering defensive effort for Arizona as the Wildcats beat UConn 69-59 Friday night to advance to the women’s NCAA Tournament championship game for the first time in school history.

The Wildcats never trailed against the favored and fabled Huskies, who have made the Final Four 13 consecutive times, but haven’t made the championship game since 2016 when UConn won its 11th title.

Arizona held UConn to a season low in points, but still had to hold on late after leading by 14 late in the third quarter as the Huskies made a late push. At the final buzzer, McDonald threw the ball high in the air and was mobbed by her teammates near center court. She shared a long hug with coach Adia Barnes, who starred as a player at the school in the late 1990s.

Arizona (21-5) will play Stanford for the title on Sunday night in an all Pac-12 final.

Haley Jones scored 24 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 32 seconds left, to help Stanford beat South Carolina 66-65.

It’s Stanford’s first trip to the title game since 2010, which was also in San Antonio. The Cardinal lost to UConn in that contest, 53-47. Now they’ll face Pac-12 rival Arizona on Sunday night. The fourth-seeded Wildcats knocked off top-seed UConn 69-59.

Leading by one, the Cardinal turned it over with 6.2 seconds left at midcourt and Brea Beal missed a contested layup as Lexie Hull hustled back to get in her way. Aliyah Boston grabbed the rebound, but her putback attempt also bounced off the rim setting off a wild celebration by the Cardinal.