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The turnaround of Arizona women's basketball

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 20:57:54-05

TUCSON, Ariz — It's just before practice begins, and forward Dominque McBryde is shooting basketballs from the balcony at the Richard Jefferson Gymanisum on to the court below. McBryde connects on just her fourth attempt, and her Wildcat teammates cheer.

"I'm enjoying this ten game winning streak so much," said guard Aari McDonald. "There is no other feeling."

Shots didn't used to go in much from anywhere for the Wildcats, who are coming off seven straight losing seasons. But thanks in part to McDonald, who is fifthin the nation in scoring, the Wildcats have won a program record tying ten wins in a row.

"I don't know anyone who can guard her," said freshman Cate Reese, the program's first McDonalds All-American, who is second on the team in scoring. The Wildcats used a stifling defense to hold rival ASU to just 39 points in a 51-39 win in its conference opener last Sunday.

"They're tenacious," said third year head coach Adia Barnes of her players. "They play with grit, and they play with passion. This is all them. We put together a plan, and work on it, but this is all heart."

Barnes is a former U of A star player who holds numerous program records. Sunday's win over ASU was a reminder to her playing days as more than 5,000 fans showed up at McKale Center to see the Wildcats defeat their rivals.

"When I played here, we had fans, so people will come to support us. We just have to keep on winning."

"I think that people are starting to see a change in the women's program," said Reese. "There's a lot of talk about it. People are excited, and I'm grateful to be part of it."

"We made a statement in the conference opener," added Barnes. "I love this place. We were good when I was playing here. My job is to to do everything I can to bring it back, and that's exciting."