There were a lot of firsts in Arizona’s 19-point win over Arizona State on Sunday.
First win of 2014.
First Pac-12 win of the year.
First win against ASU since 2011 and first against a ranked team since 2005.
Plus, there was the first postgame, locker room celebration video of the season.
In that, coach Niya Butts, donning a bright red blazer, walked into the locker room and pumped her fist.
She applauded the Wildcats for their defense and a lack of turnovers. Point guard Carissa Crutchfield could be seen dancing in the background.
Happy thoughts, good vibes.
The Wildcats, who are 5-18 overall and 1-11 in the Pac-12, hadn’t won a game since Dec. 29.
They are seven losses from tying a UA record for most losses in a season, with at least seven to go (six in the regular season, one in the Pac-12 tournament).
But, for the time being, they could — and did — smile.
“It feels great because we’re showing everybody what we’re capable of,” said forward Erica Barnes. “We wish this would’ve happened before, but it’s never too late.”
Keyahndra Cannon added: “It’s a big boost of confidence for us. It definitely looks good for us right now.”
Barring a Pac-12 tournament miracle, though, it is too late to make a postseason run. But it’s not too late to win a few more games to close out Barnes’ senior year.
In that postgame locker room, Butts knew her team deserved a chance to celebrate — for now.
“We need to enjoy it today,” Butts said, “but we need to understand that you should love this feeling right here. Everybody going in, everybody continuing to work, everybody talking, everybody doing their part. When we do that, we give ourselves an opportunity to win. From this point on, what we did before doesn’t matter; it’s what we do moving forward.”
Unfortunately, these good vibes might not last into this weekend, when the Wildcats take on the class of the Pac-12, and two teams the UA has always struggled against — at No. 22 Cal at 8:30 tonight and at No. 6 Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Combined, the UA has lost 33 straight games to the Golden Bears and Cardinal.
“We talked about it in the locker room,” Butts said. “Nobody’s gonna give you anything. You have to go in there, and you have to make plays, and we have to take what we did today and try to learn from it, try to duplicate it.”
Here’s a look at the Wildcats remaining six games, ranked in order of which games they have the best chance of winning.
Record: 10-13, 3-9 Pac-12
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 21
Last time: The Wildcats traded leads for a while with the Utes but ultimately couldn’t hang on, falling 60-57 in Salt Lake City.
Why No. 1: Utah has the second-worst scoring offense, the game is a UA home game, and the last game was close.
Record: 14-9, 4-8
When: 3 p.m. Feb. 23
Last time: Arizona trailed by seven at halftime, and that was as close as it would get. Colorado shot 71.4 percent in the second half, outscored the UA 39-25 and won by 21.
Why No. 2: Arizona struggled mightily against the Buffs, but the Buffs have lost 3 of 5 since, and, again, the game is at McKale.
Record: 13-10, 4-8
When: 2 p.m. March 2
Where: Eugene, Ore.
Last time: The Wildcats couldn’t handle Oregon’s fast-paced, high-scoring attack, falling 84-72.
Why No. 3: A month ago, this might have been No. 1. But Arizona’s depleted roster has a tough time with the Ducks’ fast-paced offense and full-court press defense, largely because of fatigue.
4. Oregon State
Record: 15-9, 7-5
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 28
Where: Corvallis, Ore.
Last time: From the jump, the Beavers had the advantage and closed with a 14-point win.
Why No. 4: The Beavers are good, certainly better than the UA, but not quite Stanford-Cal good.
Record: 16-7, 8-4
When: 8:30 tonight
Where: Berkeley, Calif.
Last time: Arizona actually kept it close for most of the game, coming to within seven late in the game, but Cal hit 23 of 29 free throws and wound up winning by 15.
Why No. 5: It’s in Berkeley, and Brittany Boyd/Reshanda Gray has proven too much to handle.
Record: 22-2, 11-1
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Stanford, Calif.
Last time: Stanford did Stanford things and won by 44.
Why No. 6: Again, it’s Stanford. Also, Chiney Ogwumike.