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A look back at Arizona’s best wins of 2019

Which one is your favorite?

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

2019 is winding down, and to celebrate we are taking a look back at the Arizona Wildcats’ best wins of the year.

Softball — Arizona softball gets revenge on Washington in Oklahoma City

In its first Women’s College World Series game in nine years, Arizona got some sweet revenge against the Washington Huskies. Junior catcher Dejah Mulipola hit a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift the Wildcats to a 3-1 victory in Oklahoma City.

It was the first WCWS game to go to extra innings since the 2017 championship series. It also snapped a six-game losing streak to the Huskies. Taylor McQuillin tossed a complete game, outdueling UW ace Taran Alvelo.

Women’s basketball — Arizona beats Northwestern to claim WNIT championship

Sellout crowds are commonplace in McKale Center, but not for women’s basketball. Well, that all changed on April 6 when 14,464 flocked to McKale to watch the Arizona women’s team claim the WNIT championship. UA used a dominant second half to pull away for a 56-42 win over Northwestern. Arizona held the visiting Wildcats to 26.5 percent shooting. Aari McDonald led the way with 19 points.

Arizona finished that season on a six-game winning streak and has carried that momentum into the 2019-20 season, currently sitting at 11-0 heading into Sunday’s Pac-12 opener. UA’s 17-game winning streak is the longest in the nation.

Head coach Adia Barnes has made it clear that repeating as WNIT champions would be a disappointment. It’s NCAA Tournament or bust.

Football — Khalil Tate wrecks Colorado (again) as Arizona improves to 4-1

Believe it or not, there was hope for Arizona football during the 2019 season. Coming off wins vs. Texas Tech and UCLA, the Wildcats went to Boulder and escaped with a 35-30 win to improve to 4-1 on the season. Bowl eligibility looked possible, if not likely.

Khalil Tate destroyed the Buffaloes with his arm this time, throwing for 404 yards and three touchdowns. It was a back-and-forth affair with six lead changes. Nathan Tilford plunged for a five-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats ahead for good with 6:51 left.

Unfortunately, it was Arizona’s last win in 2019, as the Wildcats would finish the year with seven straight losses and a 4-8 record.

Men’s basketball — Nico Mannion’s game-winner vs. Pepperdine

The 2018-19 season didn’t provide many memorable moments for the Wildcats, so let’s rewind back to last month when freshman Nico Mannion went coast-to-coast and hit a floater with 2.1 seconds left to lead the Wildcats to a 93-91 win over Pepperdine in the Wooden Legacy opener.

It capped a stellar night for Mannion, who had 16 points and a career-high 11 assists. Arizona beat Penn and Wake Forest over the next three days to capture the Wooden Legacy championship.

Soccer — Arizona picks up rare win vs. UCLA at Mulcahy

The Arizona-UCLA soccer rivalry is one of the most lopsided in all of sports. The Bruins owned a 1-23-1 all-time record vs. the Wildcats entering October’s rematch. You wouldn’t have known it with the way that game turned out.

Jada Talley scored twice—in the 28th minute and 85th minute—and Brooke Wilson scored a SportsCenter worthy goal from distance in the 68th minute to seal a 3-0 win over then-No. 16 UCLA. UA goalkeeper and Tucson native Hope Hisey pitched a shutout and after the game called the victory “something you dream about.”

The Bruins, one of the nation’s powerhouses, wound up making a run to the Final Four a couple months later.

Volleyball — Wildcats topple No. 22 Washington State

After a few close calls against ranked teams that resulted in losses, Arizona was finally able to get over the hump with a 3-1 win over the Cougars. Outside hitter Paige Whipple had a career-high 29 kills, libero Kamaile Hiapo had 24 digs, and setter Julia Patterson had 45 assists.

The Wildcats were hemorrhaged by injuries for most of the season, but returned some key players for this match and showed what they were capable of when closer to full strength.

Unfortunately by then it was too little, too late and they finished with a 15-17 record, not nearly good enough to make the NCAA Tournament.

Baseball — Offense explodes in 28-7 win at Oregon

Pitching and defense were often optional for Arizona baseball in 2019, but the offense was a consistent, powerful force.

And on a cold May day in Eugene, the Wildcats pounded 26 hits and plated 28 runs to complete the road sweep of the Ducks. Both were the most the Wildcats tallied in a conference game since 2006, despite the fact the game was called off after eight innings.

Arizona’s 54 runs during the series—it won the opener 17-6 and the second game 9-8—was a school record for a conference series.

Not only that, but the sweep allowed the Wildcats to keep their slim postseason hopes alive, though they were officially squashed by the selection committee later in the month.