Arizona forward Trinity Baptiste attempts to control the ball as UConn guard Paige Bueckers defends during Friday’s national semifinals of the women’s Final Four of the NCAA Tournament at the Alamodome. Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Aari McDonald scored 26 points and Arizona surprisingly was in control for most of the game in upsetting Connecticut, 69-59, in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four semifinal Friday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Arizona (21-5) takes on Stanford, a 66-65 winner against South Carolina in the first semifinal, in Sunday night’s title game. It will be a final pitting a pair of Pac-12 Conference teams against each other.

“We just believed,” McDonald said in a postgame television interview after pulling off the upset.

Sam Thomas added 12 points and Cate Reese had 11 points for Arizona, a No. 3 regional seed appearing in the Final Four for the first time.

Connecticut was in the Final Four for the 13th consecutive tournament, but the Huskies have lost in the semifinal round in four consecutive trips.

Christyn Williams scored 20 points for Connecticut (28-2). Freshman guard Paige Bueckers, the national Player of the Year, struggled for portions of the game and ended up with 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. She had only five first-half points. Evina Westbrook chipped in with 10 points.

The Wildcats extended their lead to as many as 14 points in the second half. They were up 53-41 with just over five minutes to play.

The dagger might have come when McDonald converted a three-point play for a 56-46 lead with 3:51 to play. Williams fouled out on that sequence.

Arizona made enough free throws the rest of the way to withstand Connecticut’s final threats.

McDonald shot 7-for-17 from the field. She also was second on the team with seven rebounds.

The Wildcats, who were the lone non-No. 1 regional seed to reach the Final Four, led 32-22 at halftime behind McDonald’s 15 points. She had four of the game’s total seven 3-point baskets at that point.

Connecticut shot just 32 percent from the field in the opening half. The Huskies had four assists and nine turnovers prior to the break.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

FieldLevelMedia

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.