There were smiles and high fives, chest bumps and hugs.
There was a cheering crowd, and an ecstatic head coach.
After it was over, “Celebration” blasted through the McKale Center speakers for the first time in months.
“We’re all smiling,” said Carissa Crutchfield, the UA point guard.
And they deserve to because, finally, Arizona won.
Sunday, the Wildcats upset No. 11 ASU in a dominant 68-49 win.
It’s the Wildcats’ first conference win, and fifth overall — they’re 5-18, 1-11 in the Pac-12. It was their first win against the Sun Devils since 2011.
“Obviously it feels good to win finally, to get that one,” said UA coach Niya Butts. “It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s against ASU. We found a perfect opportunity to break our streak of not winning, to do it against the 11th-ranked team in the country.
“It’s exceptional,” she added. “I’m so proud of them.”
It was the Wildcats’ first win against a ranked opponent since 2005, and the first of Butts’ career.
Realistically, this doesn’t change much of the season outlook — UA is still two games back of 11th place with six regular season games remaining — but it’s the first positive after a long conference season of negatives.
The Cats got off to a strong start Sunday, thanks to Erica Barnes.
The senior forward opened the game scoring eight of Arizona’s first 10 points, giving the team a 10-8 lead.
After ASU tied the game at 8, the Sun Devils trailed the rest of the way, and never tied it again.
That’s partly because of Barnes, who finished with 14 points on 7- of-11 shooting, five rebounds and three steals.
And when Barnes stole the ball with 12:34 left in the game, and quickly hit a layup, the Wildcats all but put the game away with a 45-30 lead.
“Erica Barnes was fantastic for us,” Butts said. “She came into the game and immediately went to work inside, and we were going to her. We talk to our post players about how ‘we’re coming to you inside, we have to make plays in there.’ She accepted the challenge and was able to finish.”
Added Barnes: “It’s a great feeling. Obviously we needed this one, we pulled together, stayed together, played together, just did everything together, and it feels good.”
Particularly, the trio of Barnes, Crutchfield and sophomore guard Keyahndra Cannon played, well, together on offense.
Together they scored 43 of Arizona’s 68 points, headed by Crutchfield’s career-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
UA shot a season-high 54.9 percent from the field (28 of 51), including an impressive 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) in the first half.
On the flip side, Arizona also held the Sun Devils (20-4, 9-4) to 31.9 percent (15 of 47) shooting, matched them in rebounding at 29 and forced 20 turnovers, getting 20 points off them.
“We played 40 minutes together,” Crutchfield said. “We knew we needed to stay together. We always played one half. We just needed to put two halves together.”
Added Butts: “That was one of the first things I said when I went into the locker room, that we won both halves, and that hadn’t happened in a long time so I feel really good about it.”
Next, the Wildcats will take a Bay Area road trip, facing No. 23 California on Friday and No. 3 Stanford on Sunday.