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Arizona women’s basketball cracks AP Top 25 for first time since 2004

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 5 Women’s North Dakota at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This week they got it right.

After barely missing the cut last week, the Arizona women’s basketball team checks in at No. 24 in the latest AP Top 25.

It is the first time the Wildcats have cracked the AP Top 25 since 2004, a sign of just how much the program has grown since Adia Barnes took over prior to the 2016-17 season.

Arizona is 6-0 with an average margin of victory of 28.6. Its signature win came on Nov. 17 when the Wildcats drubbed then-No. 22 Texas in Austin, 83-58.

The Wildcats have been led by redshirt junior point guard Aari McDonald, who is averaging 22.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 55.8 percent shooting. She scored a program-record 44 points against the Longhorns.

Sophomore Cate Reese has taken another step forward this season, averaging 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Junior Sam Thomas is averaging 9.5 points per game while setting the tone defensively and Spanish freshman Helena Pueyo has made an immediate impact, averaging 8.5 points per game while shooting a dazzling 47.6 percent from 3.

As a team, the Wildcats are much improved on the perimeter, connecting on 36.6 of their 3-point attempts. Their strength, however, is on defense where they are holding their opponents to a 31.2 field-goal percentage and forcing over 20 turnovers per game.

The now-ranked Wildcats host UC Riverside on Friday at 4 p.m. MST.