For 30 minutes on Saturday, Arizona women’s basketball overcame both foul trouble and a hostile environment to build a double-digit lead over Oregon. The last 15 were less flattering, as the Wildcats fell in overtime 68-66. Overshadowing the game was the story afterward. What happened between the coaches?
Accusations by the Oregon faithful were made that Arizona head coach Adia Barnes made an obscene gesture towards Oregon head coach Kelly Graves after the game. That Barnes made a similar gesture after beating Connecticut on national TV last year played into the outrage. This time, there was no photographic evidence produced, but Barnes didn’t deny it, posting an apology on social media shortly after the game.
Tonight was a battle! It was a very emotional game! I apologize for being out of character and letting my emotions get the best of me.— ADIA BARNES COPPA ⬇️ ❤️ (@AdiaBarnes) January 16, 2022
The question is why she would do so. It was the 68th loss of her head coaching career, so it’s not like she’s never experienced losing. It’s not even the first time Arizona has lost late on questionable officiating during her tenure.
Barnes and her players responded to a few critics on social media late Saturday and into Sunday afternoon. From the Arizona camp, the explanation was that Graves hurled obscenities at Barnes during the game.
I’m sorry but you should say the same thing about him because there are reasons for her reaction. He wasn’t saying the nicest things either(.) https://t.co/IS2nv9lqeQ— Bendu yeaney (@Benduyeaney1) January 16, 2022
At the very least, it lit a fire under the Wildcats, who have circled Feb. 4 on their calendar.
The great thing about the PAC-12, is that we get to see some teams TWICE. We play against Oregon on Feb 4, but this time at Mckale ! Home court advantage, plays a DIFFERENCE. Let’s make Mckale the most difficult place to play in the PAC. Protect our HOME. Against ALL.— Shaina Pellington (@Shainap_14) January 16, 2022
It’s doubtful that anyone not wearing cardinal and navy in Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday afternoon will step forward to verify the accusations against Graves or defend Barnes, but some in the coaching field took to her defense even before the explanation. Chief among them was South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
Barnes is moving on and her players are looking forward to hosting Oregon in McKale in just under three weeks.
I have already straightened my crown. Believe that!— ADIA BARNES COPPA ⬇️ ❤️ (@AdiaBarnes) January 16, 2022