Arizona, whom USC’s Lindsay Gottlieb lobbied for, wins NCAA Tournament First Four game

The coaches of the Pac-12 lobbied hard for the Arizona women’s basketball team to be included in the 2024 Women’s NCAA Tournament. USC’s Lindsay Gottlieb, UCLA’s Cori Close, and other Pac-12 coaches felt Arizona deserved to be in the field, and that the Pac-12 needed to be recognized and rewarded for its quality and depth. Arizona did get in, one of the last teams to make the field of 68. The Wildcats were sent to the First Four to play Auburn in a play-in game. This was the first true proving ground for the Pac-12 in the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

Arizona held up its end of the bargain and made the Pac-12 community of coaches look good. Arizona met the challenge posed by Auburn and won 69-59 to advance in the bracket. Jada Williams scored 17 points, and Arizona produced four double-figure scorers in a balanced attack. Arizona also forced 23 Auburn turnovers and allowed only one made 3-point shot to the Tigers, who struggled against the U of A’s strong halfcourt defense. Auburn managed just 23 points in the game’s first 26 minutes as Arizona built a 16-point lead. Auburn managed to heat up in the game’s final 14 minutes, scoring 36 points, but Arizona made key 3-pointers to blunt the Tigers’ final push.

Arizona next faces sixth-seeded Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire