Revenge was swift and decisive.
Arizona opened Friday’s contest vs. Cal with nine unanswered points and never trailed on its way to an 86-73 win over the Golden Bears in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
It is payback for Cal stunning the Wildcats in McKale Center last Sunday and spoiling their Senior Day. Arizona will face the winner of the Utah-Oregon game in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT.
The 4th-seeded Wildcats (24-6) obliterated the 12th-seeded Bears inside, notching a 44-18 edge in points in the paint. Cate Reese logged a career-high 30 points on an uber-efficient 13-of-15 shooting.
Dominique McBryde and Sam Thomas each picked up their fourth foul late in the third quarter but Reese sank a baseline jumper at the buzzer to build the lead to 62-44.
Aari McDonald, who later picked up a fourth foul, scored a breakaway layup with 4:39 left in the fourth, pushing her into double figures for the 65th straight game, the longest active streak in the nation. She finished with 13 points on 6-of-17 shooting, still nursing a left leg injury.
Cal (12-20) cut the deficit to 13 but McDonald buried a deep 3 to push the lead to 81-65 with two minutes left. Arizona shot 55 percent after Cal held them to 36 percent shooting last Sunday. The Wildcats had 25 assists on 35 field goals.
Cal’s Jaelyn Brown, who had the game-winning putback in the first matchup, drilled back-to-back 3s to bring the Bears within 10 with 37.1 seconds left, but it was too little too late.
The victory should lock up Arizona’s right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament unless some of the teams on the outside looking in make a magical run in their conference tournaments.
The Wildcats entered the week as the No. 14 overall seed in the country.