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McDonald goes for 32 in Arizona’s win vs Portland

Aari McDonald went for 20 points in the first half vs the University of Portland at the Bank of Hawaii Classic
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Arizona coach Adia Barnes has been talking about the importance of her transfer players for over a year now. Aari McDonald showed why for the third time this week, scoring 32 points in a 92-70 victory over the Portland Pilots (3-1).

McDonald wasn’t just prolific as the Wildcats (3-1) wound up their stay in Honolulu. She was also efficient. Her 32 points came off 16 shots, and she went 5-9 from three. She also went 7-8 from the free throw line.

McDonald is the second-leading scorer in the country after the first two weeks of the season. She’s also No. 4 in Division I for made free throws.

“With Aari, I think what’s different is that a lot of her defense creates her offense,” Barnes told IMG Radio. “Aari’s just so quick, it changes things on both ends.”

If there’s been any criticism of McDonald’s game, it’s been her assist-to-turnover ratio. Against the Pilots, the problem disappeared.

“Seven assists, but I like the three turnovers,” Barnes said about McDonald’s stats. “Plus-four assist-to-turnover ratio is really good.”

In addition to McDonald, Cate Reese (15 pts) and Lucia Alonso (19 pts) scored in double figures, while Sam Thomas and TeeTee Starks were both knocking on the door with nine each. Still, Barnes felt that they could do better.

“I would like to see four or five in double-digit scoring when we score 92 points,” she said.

As a team, the Wildcats dominated from the start. They put up 30 points in the first quarter, stretching the lead to as many as 18 points before the Pilots closed it to 12 at the end of the period. A three-point shot by Portland’s Haylee Andrews ended the quarter with a score of 30-18 in favor of Arizona.

The Pilots wrapped up the first quarter with six straight points, and kept that momentum in the beginning of the second. With 3:52 left in the half, Portland had closed the lead to 11 points. It’s as close as they would get.

The Wildcats closed out the half on a 12-0 run, pushing the lead to 23 points at the break. The half ended with a score of 55-32.

The second half was simply a matter of maintaining the lead the Wildcats built in the first. Arizona outscored Portland by two in each of the final quarters in what was a mere formality.

The Wildcats will return to McKale Center the day after Thanksgiving to face South Carolina State. The game begins at 6:30 p.m.