TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Tournament play is taking over the McKale Center with the Arizona Women’s Basketball Team.
Arizona beat the Idaho State Badgers 66-56 in the first round of the WNIT Thursday night. The Wildcats will host Pacific Sunday at 3 p.m.
The postseason play at home, for the first time since 2001, is giving women’s basketball fans something to cheer for after a turnaround season.
“We always supported the girls, we yelled and screamed until we were hoarse, but they had a losing season last year,” said Joseph Giordano.
Joseph and his wife, Nancy, got to campus two hours before tip-off Tuesday. Decked out in red and blue, the Giordano’s were the first two people in line to get into the McKale Center.
“We love basketball, love the U of A, we can’t afford the men’s tickets," said Giordano with a laugh.
Maybe that was a sign. The season ticket holders, now for a second year, sure have gotten their money’s worth.
“Seeing that the women have kind of stepped up to the plate and showed that Tucson is a basketball city, has been really, really cool," said U of A student Grace Levine.
While all reserved seats were sold out before the game, there was a push on social media to get students in the stands.
Head Coach Adia Barnes first tweeted she bought 50 tickets for students to pick-up to Thursday’s game. Athletic Director Dave Heeke chimed in and Head Football Coach Kevin Sumlin followed suit. Former Wildcat and current New Orleans Pelican Solomon Hill brought the total tickets available for students, for free, to 250.
“There’s a lot of tickets that were free," said Josh Burgess, a student who took advantage of the offer.
“Our ZonaZoo stuff doesn’t work, so it’s nice that they were trying to take care of it, like ‘hey, show up, we are going to give you free tickets, get rowdy, get fun.’ Because we haven’t been in the postseason for about eleven seasons, so this is big for us," said Burgess.
While the showing was sparse in the student section, loyal fans filled up center court. The Giordano’s said they feel connected to the women’s team and Coach Barnes, after getting to participate in a fan day. It’s a program that gave them more games to look forward to in the postseason.
“To come this year and have them play the ball their playing now, with the excitement she’s brought to this team, you can just feel the wave and direction this team is going now," said Giordano.