Recap: Arizona makes statement in 28-point rivalry win

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 06 Women’s - USC at Arizona
The Arizona Wildcats picked up their first 20-point win of the season on Thursday against intrastate rival, the Arizona State Sun Devils. | Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are now 4-0 and the fourth win came in a much more desirable fashion than the previous three. No. 6 Arizona cruised past the Arizona State Sun Devils. Also on Thursday, the No. 7 Baylor Lady Bears bounced back with a win over the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Aari McDonald scored 22 points to lead the Arizona Wildcats to a liberating 65-37 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tucson Thursday night. Arizona (4-0, 3-0 Pac-12) was coming off two close-call wins and needed a blowout to boost confidence and start living up to the high expectations surrounding them this season.

A made jumper by Arizona State’s Sydnei Caldwell cut Arizona’s lead to two points with 5:23 minutes to go in the first quarter, but the Wildcats started to break away after that. A Cate Reese layup on the next possession made it 10-6; her free throws with 3:20 minutes left in the first made it a 12-6 advantage. McDonald then buried the first of her five 3-pointers to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the first quarter, 15-6.

Arizona led by at least six points the rest of the way and its largest lead was 29. The Wildcats won the second quarter 19-9 before winning the third and fourth quarters by six points each.

Reese finished with 13 points and she, along with McDonald, each grabbed seven rebounds. The Wildcats held Eboni Walker, the Sun Devils’ top scorer, to four points and let Taya Hanson, with 14 points, do the most damage. Hanson also notched seven boards, while Walker was good for nine rebounds and four steals.

With the loss, the Sun Devils’ average points per game fell to 54.3 and their average points allowed per game rose to 54.3 — disappointing for a team that entered the game with a Top-10 win on its mind.

Arizona State (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) was ice cold from the field (26.9 percent) and hurt by Arizona making eight more threes and six more free throws. In addition, the Wildcats forced 23 turnovers (six more than they committed) and scored 13 more points off miscues than their opponent. The Wildcats also won the battle of fast-break points 13-2.

No. 7 Baylor Lady Bears regroup at halftime, take down West Virginia Mountaineers 65-45 | Box Score

The Lady Bears (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) needed a bounce-back win after losing to No. 13 Arkansas on Dec. 6. Thursday, they refused to give in to a two-game losing streak and powered a phenomenal second half against the Mountaineers (4-1, 0-1 Big 12).

Baylor and West Virginia were tied at halftime, but the Lady Bears went on a 22-4 run from the 8:26-minute mark in the third to 1:16 minutes remaining before the fourth. DiJonai Carrington scored 12 points during the run and finished with a game-high 19 to go along with seven rebounds and five steals.

Moon Ursin (12 points), DiDi Richards (10) and NaLyssa Smith (10) also scored in double figures for the winners. Ursin recorded a team-high eight boards and dished out a game-high five assists.

Kirsten Deans led West Virginia’s scoring efforts with 10 points in defeat, while Kysre Gondrezick, Madisen Smith and Esmery Martinez each had nine. Martinez also notched a game-high 12 rebounds.

With the help of Martinez’s effort on the glass and Kari Niblack’s five blocks, the Mountaineers held their own in the paint — losing that battle by just six boards (28-22). The Lady Bears, however, scored 13 more second-chance points than the Mountaineers and a lack of production from West Virginia’s bench wasn’t helpful to the Mountaineers’ cause. The Lady Bears’ non-starters outscored the Mountaineers’ bench 26-4.

Next up

Arizona: TBD on Friday, Dec. 18 at Colorado Buffaloes

Arizona State: 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 13 vs. San Diego Toreros

Baylor: 7 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 14 vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (ESPNU)

West Virginia: 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 13 vs. James Madison Dukes (Big 12 on ESPN+)