The long-range shots were open, so Arizona kept taking them.
And making them.
No. 4 Indiana, meanwhile, couldn’t buy a shot from distance, and the best season in program history came to an end with a 66-53 loss to No. 3 Arizona on Monday in the Mercado regional final at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
In a game that, for three quarters, was much closer than the final score shows, the Wildcats drained nine 3-pointers, while the Hoosiers went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc. Arizona advances to its first Final Four, where it will meet No. 1 UConn this weekend. Indiana finishes with a 21-6 record, ending up as the last Big Ten team standing.
Arizona’s Aari McDonald led all scorers with 33 points in a dominant, all-tournament effort, while Mackenzie Holmes paced the Hoosiers with 20 points in the loss.
Although IU led for only one minute of Monday’s game, the Hoosiers were within striking distance for a chunk of the action. After trailing by four at halftime, IU flirted with trouble out of the break when Trinity Baptiste drained an open 3-pointer to put Arizona ahead by eight two and a half minutes into the third period. A 30-second timeout allowed Indiana to regroup, and the Hoosiers punched back with a 9-2 run that got them within 37-36 midway through the quarter. Then, with a minute left in the frame, Holmes’ 20th point of the night tied the game at 44-all.
The teams went back and forth in the early moments of the fourth quarter before a three and a half-minute Indiana scoring drought allowed the Wildcats to rebuild their lead to eight points. Arizona outscored IU 20-9 during the final period, and shot 6-for-12 from distance during the second half.
Grace Berger scored 15 points and Ali Patberg added 12 points for IU, which found success through aggressive drives to the rim during its mid-second half spurt. But the Hoosiers simply had no answer for McDonald, who sank five 3-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished four assists in willing the Wildcats to the final weekend.
Outside of McDonald, the seven other Arizona players to see the floor combined to shoot merely 29% from the field.