At Wednesday’s press conference, Arizona coach Adia Barnes said that this was a good time to try to get a win on the road. The Wildcats went out looking like they believed beating No. 7 Stanford in Maples Pavilion was within their ability.
It almost was, but a three-pointer by Aari McDonald rimmed out at the buzzer and Stanford held on for a 56-54 win.
McDonald played all 40 minutes of the game. She scored 20 points, and had 7 rebounds, six assists and four steals to go along with her team-high points.
Senior Destiny Graham, playing in her last road trip to the area where she grew up, backed McDonald up with 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. She also got the crucial turnover that gave McDonald her last chance at the winning shot.
Stanford built a seven-point lead out of the gate, but Arizona didn’t go away. By the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats had whittled the lead back down to one. Both teams were led by their star players with McDonald putting up seven points and Stanford’s Alana Smith contributing six.
In the second, the Wildcats kept it close, never letting the Cardinal get more than five points ahead until late in the quarter. With 3:06 to go in the half, though, it looked like Stanford was going to pull away. They went on an 8-2 run to go into the locker room with an eight-point lead on Arizona.
The Wildcats chipped away at the lead, finally taking over midway through the third quarter. Six different Arizona players put up points in the period to give them a two-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Arizona pushed the lead to as many as seven over the final stanza, but they couldn’t quite hold it.
Up 54-50 and with three seconds on the shot clock, Arizona let the Cardinal inbound the ball to Smith for a wide-open three. The Cardinal closed it to a one-point deficit. Neither team scored again for almost two-and-a-half minutes—until Smith hit another three-pointer to give her team their first lead of the fourth quarter.
With 14 seconds left to go and a two-point lead, Stanford fouled McDonald, sending her to the line. She missed both shots. Stanford rebounded the ball, but Graham got the steal off a bad pass.
With 10 seconds to go, Arizona called a timeout and set up the play. McDonald’s three-pointer for the win at the buzzer rimmed in and out.
The Wildcats didn’t score over the final 4:39, allowing the Cardinal to score the final nine points of the game to win by two.
Arizona faces California on Sunday at 3 p.m. MST. They fall to 17-9 on the year and 7-8 in Pac-12 play.