Aari McDonald went off for 31 points to lead the No. 3 seed Arizona Wildcats to their first-ever Elite Eight with a 74-59 win over the No. 2 seed Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday night in San Antonio.
Arizona will now play No. 4 seed Indiana in the Mercado Region final.
The Wildcats led 59-46 entering the fourth and by at least 11 and as many as 16 throughout the final frame. Aaliyah Wilson had 17 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.
McDonald scored nine points in the third, including a triple that made it 55-44 Arizona and a triple on a wide-open look that bounced off the rim and backboard and in to make it 58-44 with 1:11 to go in the quarter.
The Wildcats had contributions from all over to give them 24 points as a team in the third. Bendu Yeaney opened with the team’s first five points of the frame.
McDonald scored eight points in the first and 11 in the second. N’dea Jones led A&M with eight points after one, but was held scoreless in the second and Kayla Wells was the team’s leading scorer at the break with 10.
Arizona led 35-32 at the break and by as many as eight in the second. A 10-0 run to begin the frame made sure of that as it gave the Wildcats a 27-19 lead. But Texas A&M did a good job of hanging in there and it took big plays from McDonald to keep inching Arizona ahead. She made a triple to put her team up 23-19, a triple to put it up 33-30 and a crazy floater to make it 35-30 with 29 seconds remaining in the second.