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Poor shooting, rebounding doom No. 6 Arizona in loss to No. 1 Stanford

Simon Asher/Arizona Athletics

With their last two matchups being decided by a total of three points, a close game between the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats and the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal was a reasonable expectation. The Cardinal had different ideas, cruising to an 81-54 victory in McKale Center.

It’s the first loss of the season for the Wildcats, who drop to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12.

Things started well for the them. Almost halfway through the opening quarter, they were up by six. Aari McDonald had hit a 3-pointer and Sam Thomas hit two of them.

Then Stanford woke up. The No. 1 team in the country did what No. 1 teams are supposed to do. They closed out the quarter on a 13-2 run, taking a 20-13 lead.

“In the first five minutes, we were playing our game,” Bendu Yeaney said. “And then after that, we started playing their game.”

The Cardinal didn’t let up. Their shooting percentage steadily climbed as they hit one after another. They made good on 48.3 percent of their field goals, including 66.7 percent of their 3-pointers.

On the rare occasion they missed, an old problem for Arizona reared its head. The Wildcats couldn’t rebound the ball. The Cardinal out-rebounded the home team 51-32.

On the other end of the court, Arizona’s offense was futile. After starting the game shooting well over 40 percent for the first 4.5 minutes, the Wildcats ended the half with an 18.8 shooting percentage. They opened the game 3-3 from distance. They ended the half 3-12.

“We know we had to get points on the board against Stanford,” Yeaney said. “You can’t really have scoreless quarters or scoreless droughts against them. When they go on the run, they’re up by like 15. And that’s what happened to us. We couldn’t score and then we weren’t really getting stops on the defensive side. And that’s not something we can do. We can’t do that going forward.”

The shooting woes would last throughout the game. Although she extended her double-digit scoring streak, McDonald shot just 3-18 from the floor. Only Thomas (45 percent) and Yeaney (50 percent) shot better than 20 percent for the Wildcats.

“They made us look bad,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said.

The Wildcats came out of the locker room after the half looking more like the team that had started the game. They outscored the Cardinal 21-17 in the third quarter. That still left them in a 20-point hole that was just too deep to escape.

Arizona returns to action Sunday vs. Cal.

Postgame interviews

Adia Barnes

Adia Barnes post-Stanford

Adia Barnes didn't try to sugarcoat how poorly Arizona played in its 81-54 loss to Stanford

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, January 1, 2021

Sam Thomas and Bendu Yeaney

Sam Thomas and Bendu Yeaney post Stanford

Sam Thomas and Bendu Yeaney met with the media after Arizona's 81-54 loss to Stanford

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, January 1, 2021