With Arizona’s game against Prairie View A&M well in hand, Wildcats head coach Adia Barnes wanted to do something for Aari McDonald. With a triple double close, Barnes opted to keep her star guard on the floor until the final buzzer in an 83-48 win.
“I thought that’d be a great thing for her to get,” Barnes said. “Not a lot of people in their lives will ever get a triple double. I’ve never been good enough to get triple doubles. So I was hoping she did it.”
McDonald entered the final quarter with 12 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. With five minutes left, she was closing in on the mark, so Barnes kept her in.
“They told me, I think sometime in the fourth quarter,” McDonald said. “It didn’t go my way. I wanted it so bad, but whatever.”
Although it wasn’t to be, she got close several times. Her last two attempts at rebounds ended in tie-ups that were settled by the arrow or the foul. McDonald ended the game just short, scoring 15 points, dishing out a career-high 14 assists, grabbing 9 rebounds and getting four steals.
Earlier in the game, the goals were different. Barnes obviously wanted to get her younger players some time. She just wasn’t going to let the game get away in order to do that.
In the opening quarter, the only starter who played more than five minutes was Cate Reese with nine. Amari Carter and Sam Thomas were out after 3.5 minutes. Aari McDonald after 4.5, and Dominique McBryde exited after five.
Freshmen Helena Pueyo and Tara Manumaleuga took advantage, each scoring six points on 2-for-3 shooting from outside in the half. But, eventually, it was time to get serious.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Panthers had closed the gap to 33-22. Barnes put four of her starters back in, and they blew the lead back out to 42-22 at the horn.
“We jumped out to an 18-2 run,” Barnes said, “and then we kind of went to the bench and then it became 18-11. And they missed some free throws or else that would have been probably a three-point game. So just stressing to reserves one of the hardest things is coming in from the bench. I get that when you’re cold. But one of the advantages is you can watch and see who you’re probably going to guard what their tendencies are, so that’s an advantage. And we’re just not really good at that yet.”
Arizona was able to dominate the second half as McDonald and Reese stayed on the court for the bulk of both quarters.
The Wildcats next travel to Montana to face the Grizzlies on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. MST.