Excitement was in the air at McKale Center in Tucson, AZ. The basketball arena was packed with a sea of 8,333 in red to cheer on their Arizona Wildcats in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Arizona’s opponent, the North Carolina Tarheels, showed out with a small but loud section, behind the team’s bench.
North Carolina started off with a great deal of momentum and ended the 1st quarter with a 5-point lead. The team kept the lead against Arizona throughout the entire game and Arizona could never catch up. The statistics of both teams are pretty even, except for overall field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and 3-pointers. North Carolina made 19 of their points off of free throws while Arizona only had the chance to make 4. Arizona tried to rely on the 3-point shot but it was just not going in the basket for them. The team made 7 out of their 27 attempts.
The Arizona crowd turned up the enthusiasm and got super loud during the beginning of the 4th quarter, when it seemed like the team might make a comeback. Arizona could not keep up with the offense of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina won the game by 18 points and is going to their first Sweet 16 appearance in 7 years.
Coach Barnes explained her perspective after the game, “Obviously disappointed with our performance and how we played just on this big stage. I think we had a lot of opportunities but never really converted. North Carolina did a great job. They played well, they disrupted us, they really congested the paint and never allowed us to drive…..So they did a really good job of out playing us in multiple ways.”
Arizona seniors Cate Reese, Sam Thomas, and Bendu Yearney were the last players on the court. They were hugging each other and crying after the tough loss on their home court. Sam Thomas gave an extended wave goodbye to the crowd, while blowing kisses to fans as well.
Both teams had some great sneaker heat with North Carolina wearing a variety of Jordans and Arizona wearing a variety of Nikes on the court. In addition, UNC walked into McKale wearing the special UNC edition of the Jordan 6s.
Coach Adia Barnes came out of the tunnel wearing the Balenciaga Metallic Track Sneakers. Coach Barnes has really been turning up her sneaker heat for the tournament and wore Christian Louboutin Loubishark Low-Top Sneakers during the first round.