Arizona Lady Wildcats have some history with NCAA Round 1 opponent, West Virginia Mountaineers

Arizona Wildcats senior forward Esmery Martinez smiles in the locker room ahead of the first...
Arizona Wildcats senior forward Esmery Martinez smiles in the locker room ahead of the first round of NCAA Tournament play in College Park, Maryland.(KOLD)
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 12:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Arizona Lady Wildcats are in College Park, Maryland, getting ready to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers Friday, March 16, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The West Virginia squad knows a thing or two about a few Wildcats.

The Cats’ third-leading scorer, Esmery Martinez, transferred to Arizona from West Virginia. While being put in that situation can be intimidating, the senior forward says she feels nothing but excitement for that big game.

“I was very surprised, I wasn’t expecting we were going to play my old teammates,” Martinez said.

Surprised might be an understatement. She smiled ear-to-ear when she saw she would be playing her old team during March Madness.

Arizona Head Coach Adia Barnes said she’s glad Martinez is experiencing the rush you get when playing a game against old teammates.

“I think every player has a lot of emotion playing against their old team and they always want to play really well so I’m just really excited for her,” Barnes said. “But how random is that, playing against her former team?”

Martinez said her old teammates were just as shocked as she was.

“Yeah, we called each other. We were like OMG that’s really crazy,” Martinez said.

That’s not the only coincidence.

“One of our coaches was also a coach there,” Barnes said.

Barnes’ special assistant Bett Shelby came to the Cats after spending three seasons with the Mountaineers.

Despite the storylines on the court, the Wildcats are making it very clear, their goal remains the same.

“We understand we didn’t end the regular season as we wanted, and so the tournament is a new beginning and a new season for us. We’re excited,” Barnes said.

Arizona is coming off a three-game losing streak, looking to get hot at just the right moment.

Tipoff is set for 9 a.m. Tucson time at The Xfinity Center.