TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona felt the sting of a lopsided loss to top-ranked Stanford from the moments after the final horn, through the off-day practice and into the build-up to Sunday’s game against California.
Angry and focused, the Wildcats took out their frustration on the winless Bears with an overwhelming performance.
Trinity Baptiste scored 17 points, Aari McDonald had 12 points and eight assists, and No. 6 Arizona bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 69-33 rout over winless Cal.
“We got punched in the face and then we were on our heels, so for them to respond shows a lot about the competitors they are,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said.
The Wildcats (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) were frustrated after being run out of the McKale Center in a 27-point loss to top-ranked Stanford on Friday.
They took it out on the Bears.
Arizona led by 17 after one quarter, 29 at halftime and shot 51% overall. The Wildcats had a 50-22 advantage in the paint, 27-7 on the break and scored 26 points off Cal’s 31 turnovers.
“That wasn’t our defense on Friday and we had to come out and prove what Arizona defense is,” Arizona’s Cate Reese, who had 14 points. “We did a great job of that.”
Cal (0-9, 0-6) was able to hang around in a loss to Arizona State on Friday, but had no chance against the determined Wildcats.
Shell shocked from the start, the depleted Bears didn’t hit double figure scoring until the 1:56 mark, shot 33% and went 1 for 6 from 3. Dalayah Daniels led the Bears with 12 points.
“We struggled vs. pressure at the start of this game. We really have to work on that,” Cal coach Charmin Smith said. “It’s tough when you have one point guard on your roster, but we know what our weaknesses are and what we need to get better at.”
A year ago, Arizona picked up one of the biggest wins in school history by beating No. 4 Stanford in overtime. The Wildcats followed up with a home dud against Cal two days later, losing 55-54 on a late putback.
Arizona again faced the Bears two days after playing Stanford, though this time after a difficult loss.
The Wildcats vowed not to have another letdown against the winless Bears and steamrolled them from the start with aggressive defense and a flurry of transition baskets.
Arizona opened the game on a 19-2 run and forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter to lead 21-4. The Wildcats scored 12 points off the turnovers and held Cal to 2-of-7 shooting.
Arizona led 39-10 at halftime, making 16 of 26 shots. The Wildcats scored 22 points off Cal’s 21 first-half turnovers.
Cal played better in the second half and outscored Arizona in the fourth quarter, but was in far too deep of a hole to make a game of it.
“I’m proud of our team that we continued to play until the final buzzer,” Smith said.
Cal was looking for its first win against a determined, top-10 team. It did not turn out well.
Arizona made sure there would be no repeat of last year’s loss with a dominating performance. The loss to Stanford may drop the Wildcats a few spots in Monday’s AP Top 25, but they will still likely be in the top 10.
MCDONALD’S BOUNCE BACK
McDonald scored 12 points against Stanford, but shot 3 for 18 from the floor and 1 for 6 from the 3-point arc.
Arizona’s senior took over at times in Sunday’s game, scoring, running the offense, spearheading Arizona’s defense at the top. McDonald made 5 of 10 shots, had six steals and three rebounds.
“A perfect game,” Barnes said. “A true leader, got her teammates involved. She did things today that I love for her to do.”