Behind a strong defensive effort and 17 points from Trinity Baptiste, the Arizona women’s basketball team cruised past Washington State 60-44 on Thursday in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
Our full recap can be found here and below is what UA head Adia Barnes had to say after the game.
Adia Barnes and Trinity Baptiste post Washington State win
Hear what Adia Barnes and Trinity Baptiste said after Arizona's 60-44 win over Washington State to open the Pac-12 TournamentPosted by AZ Desert Swarm on Thursday, March 4, 2021
On the 11-0 start to the game: “We wanted to get back to what we were doing so well a couple of weeks ago and defensive intensity and just coming out with that fire. And I think we really did that. Forced, I think, 20 turnovers in the first half. That means we were on point defensively. Weren’t able to convert at all times, but definitely I think really, really good job trapping their ball handlers, forcing them to be uncomfortable. And they had a really tough time getting into their sets.”
On Trinity Baptiste playing with a different motor: “Yeah, she did. I said, ‘what did you eat, Trinity?’ She said, ‘Coach I’m not trying to go home.’ This is Trinity’s first PAC-12 Tournament. She was phenomenal. We got on her back and got going. She did everything, hitting 3s, rebounding, brought us muscle inside. And you know what I thought she did a really good job was denying. She had six steals. So phenomenal performance by her. One of the reasons why we won. I think other people stepped up today and that’s what we needed.”
On the team’s offensive production: “I was impressed. I didn’t like our 3-point selection. I thought taking step-back 3s early when we didn’t need to, I didn’t like that. But I liked the fact they were 42% from the field. I’ll live with this. I didn’t love our offensive rebounding, but besides that I think our offense was good. Different people stepped up. We had three people in double digit scoring. And Aari, she didn’t need to score 20 today. If you look in the past if Aari didn’t score 20 we’d lose. To have 13 points and nine assists. That’s phenomenal. And three steals. I thought Aari played a really good game. And it was low scoring in the first half, but Lauren came in and did her part. Sam hit shots when she needed to. I thought this was just a really, really good team performance.
On why Mara Mote got some playing time in the first half: “I know we’re going to need to go deeper on our bench, and I have confidence in Mara. I thought Mara has had a really good week. She’s a good defender, gives us size, can shoot the ball. I thought put her in there early, get some experience because I think we need her. Also Madi. I think Madi gives us another shooter. She helps us spread the floor when we have other good ball handlers. I thought Madi came in and did a good job. She’s fearless. Giving them experience to me was essential to me going down the stretch.”
On getting other lesser-used players some minutes: “Yes, we for sure wanted to play deep into the bench. We don’t need to play, in the first game, Aari 38 minutes and Sam 38 minutes. I didn’t even want to play Aari 31 or Sam 32. I wanted to keep them a little bit under 30. But with Washington State, they’re such good offensive players they have great shooters that a 10-, 15-point lead is not enough for them. At some point in the fourth quarter we got really sloppy, started turning the ball over off offensive rebounds. That’s why I put the starters back in because three minutes is a lot of time. Then I took them out. But, yeah, resting people, not having them play 40, it’s a challenge because Washington State, their main players played 40 minutes yesterday. It’s a lot. I think that did affect them. So I think for us this is low minutes. We’ve got to be able to be prepared to play multiple games. It was good for us not to play 38, 40 minutes.”
On why Arizona’s defense kicked it up a notch vs. WSU: “Losing to ASU last week, it stung. We didn’t play well. ASU they were focused. It was a reality check for us, and how were we going to respond and bounce back. I said it before, I’m kind of glad we lost to them versus losing now. Not a loss I wanted but it was a learning lesson to show you can’t overlook anybody. You cannot come in tense. You can’t get on your heels right away at the beginning of games like ASU made us to do. We wanted to come out with that sense of urgency, that dog mentality. And I think we did that. It wasn’t a perfect game for us, but I thought defensively I thought we were pretty solid. We made mistakes like we’re going to but we had passion plays, we had hustle, we fought. I’m just proud of how we responded after the game because we could have just said, okay, we’re not playing well, do it. But I thought they responded well and different people stepped up. I’m proud of our performance and proud that we’re not going home.”
On if this was one of Aari McDonald’s best games: “It is. I didn’t like some of the 3s she set up for but they were in and out. I think the step-back 3s I probably would have changed a couple of those. She knew that, I’ll live with that with her, I trust her. I thought she played a phenomenal game. I thought she set up her teammates. I thought she called the right things. I thought she put people in good situations to score, almost a double-double. A month ago we wouldn’t have won with Aari scoring 13 points. But different people stepped up. That’s what it’s about this time of year. I’m proud of her, a plus-six assist-to-turnover ratio and three steals and five rebounds, I think that’s a great stat line. She played a really good game. You don’t have to score 20 to impact the game and make a difference and help us win and she did that today, tonight.
On Madi Conner hitting a 3: “If you would have seen Madi in practice the last couple of days she was just doing that. I mean, we had her playing at some points in the game Leger-Walker, and she was just, she was shooting like Leger-Walker does, hitting 3s and just killing it the last couple of days. She’s still learning our system. She still has a ways to go. But she wants it. She’s hungry. She puts in the work. She’s a gym rat. I knew down the stretch she would help us, so I’m so glad she hit that 3. The other one was in and out. She’s a shooter. She’ll bring us more offense. On the perimeter, you have to guard her. So I’m impressed with the way she played.”
On the message to the team at halftime: “That being up eight is nothing. Play it like it’s 0-0. Second half they’re a really good team. They can score in bunches. They score fast. They’re good. We know they usually have big third quarters. And I told them remember what happened at Washington State. We were up 19, lost the lead, and ended up losing in overtime. So, we don’t want to repeat history. Go back and how we started a game play, that same intensity. And I think we did that. The other thing I want to point out, Helena Pueyo wasn’t shooting the ball today, it was not her night to shoot. But six rebounds, five steals and one turnover, one block. That’s a phenomenal stat line. That is a plus-23 efficiency and that’s the way to help your team without scoring. All those little things matter.”
On the strategy against the Leger-Walker twins: “Forcing them for 6-of-27, that’s the defense we wanted. Those sisters are really good. Krystal is so experienced. She runs the team. So I think we gave her — put a lot of pressure on her, but we had to. We had to turn her over and put pressure on her, try to take her out of the game. Every game against us she hits these 3s at the end of the shot clock. It’s just hard. I don’t know how she makes those. She’s such a good player. She’s so smart. And then Charlisse is just a scorer. We wanted to make sure as a team we made her work. I thought we did a really good job against them. Forced her 2-for-17, 1-for-4 from the 3. That’s what we wanted. We knew we had to do that to win the game. I thought great team effort against her because she’s a good player. And she demands that. So very good by our defense and forcing her to be uncomfortable because she’s that good but we had to throw different things at her.”
On Sam Thomas, who had seven points: “It’s very difficult to take Sam off the floor. Sam is consistently doing these things. I wish I would have got her more than four shots. She plays the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. She rebounds. She always guards the best player. She takes care of the ball, runs great offense. She’s consistent. When she’s scoring, it’s a plus for us. She plays phenomenal defense, talks, a leader on the floor. So all those things make her so valuable. And it was just out today that she’s a scholar-athlete of the year. So that’s phenomenal, too, because she does it on the court, off the court. She’s just a player that I wish I could clone and have some more of her. And I wish I could keep a player like her every single year for my whole career. But she’s a great teammate. She’s a great leader. And she’s just a great basketball player.”
On how much defense will play into determining the Pac-12 Tournament champion: “I think defense can be a factor. But I think that you’ve got to be able to — you’ve got to play great defense and be able to convert. I think defense will be a staple. I think UCLA and Stanford play great defense. But you have to hit shots, especially when you’re meeting another good defensive team you have to be able to convert. I think we turned them over a lot especially in the first half. At times we weren’t able to convert. So you’ve got to be able to score. That’s the name of it. But the defense for us, we’re not going to be a 45-percent 3-point shooting team — that’s not our identity. But we’re going to defend. I think for us hitting the shots, getting the shots we want. Doesn’t have to be 3s, getting the shots how we want them off of our defense it creates easy scoring opportunities for us. So potentially it could be, if the defense is better than the offense, right, it can. But I think you still have to hit shots and you have to be able to convert.”