The winner will face Stanford on Sunday for the N.C.A.A. women’s title. The Cardinal beat South Carolina in the other semifinal.
Staley and Barnes are the first two Black women to lead teams in the same Final Four.
Arizona fans trekked to San Antonio support their program’s first Final Four appearance. They have been chanting “U of A” and “defense” and jumping to their feet whenever Aari McDonald approaches the basket. And for good reason — Arizona leads top-seeded UConn, 41-31, in the middle of the third quarter. UConn cheers are almost non-existent.
Arizona, behind McDonald, leads UConn at halftime.
Aari McDonald of Arizona had 15 points in the first half.
No. 3 seed Arizona backed up its first quarter run with a strong second, holding onto a lead over No. 1 seed UConn, 32-22 at halftime.
Aari McDonald kept up her torrid run as the tournament’s leading scorer, posting 15 points in the first half. Opposite her, UConn star freshman Paige Bueckers has produced 5 points, all in the first quarter, and 4 rebounds.
McDonald extended her longest active streak of scoring at least 10 points to 92 games. Sam Thomas has 8 points with 3 rebounds, but McDonald has carried the game, shooting at will and playing with tremendous confidence.
McDonald said during a halftime television interview that she practices by taking “hundreds and thousands” of shots. “It’s paying off and I’m loving it,” she said.
The Wildcats are shooting 38 percent, but perhaps most importantly have held the high-scoring Huskies to just 32 percent from the floor. UConn, which has lost just one game all season, has only attempted three shots from 3-point range, and hit just one, while the Wildcats hit six 3-pointers in the first half. The Huskies made just eight shots from the floor overall.
“I would describe our defense as suffocating and stingy,” McDonald said.