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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Women’s basketball hangs on to beat Southern Utah 76-74 in double overtime

Simon Asher
From left to right; Marlee Kyles, Jalea Bennett, Kat Wright, Destiny Graham, and Sam Thomas. Bennett had 20 points and and Thomas had 15 rebounds at the end of a double overtime.

Arizona Women’s basketball rallied from a slow start to win in double-overtime Wednesday behind 20 points from JaLea Bennett and 18 from Kat Wright to beat Southern Utah 76-74 for its fourth win of the season at the Mckale Center. 

Wright hit a 3-pointer out of an Arizona timeout with eight seconds left in double-overtime to put the Wildcats up for good and move them to 4-7 on the season. The senior forward shot 7-for-13 overall and 4-for-9 from deep as well as grabbed four rebounds and three assists. 

Initially head coach Adia Barnes drew up a play for Bennett, but when Bennett got the ball she faced a triple-team and made a pass to Wright who was open from deep. 

“I thought it was huge,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “JaLea did a really good job of not forcing what wasn’t there, normally in the past I think she would have ran somebody over and forced it, but she drew three people and kicked it to the open person, so I thought it was a beautiful play.” 

Bennett led the Wildcats with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. She struggled to hit shots in the first half, going 3-for-10, and missed several open layups in the second half, but stayed aggressive and found a way to score. She also hit two free throws when the Wildcats were down three with under 30 seconds left in double overtime to make it a two point game. She finished the night on 6-for-15 shooting. 

“JaLea is a beast,” Wright said. “She had really, I think, a good all around offensive game, she had some good blocks in there. We rely on JaLea a lot, especially on the offensive end.” 

Arizona's Jalea Bennett goes for a behind-the-back crossover to trip up Southern Utah's Kiana Johnson (15).
Arizona’s Jalea Bennett goes for a behind-the-back crossover to trip up Southern Utah’s Kiana Johnson (15).

Arizona was up by two during the final possession in regulation, but fouled Southern Utah’s Kiana Johnson with 5.7 seconds left on the clock. Johnson made both free throws, tying the game 57-57. The Wildcats then inbounded the ball and missed a contested three from the top of the key to send the game to overtime. 

The Wildcats started the game slow and finished the first quarter down 15-6. They shot 21 percent from the floor and went 0-for-5 from three, while Southern Utah hit 4-of-7 from deep. 

“I didn’t feel like we played with a sense of urgency,” Adia Barnes said. “We didn’t play with pride for being at home.. you need to play with intensity and heart for the whole game.” 

The Wildcats overcame the slow start and found a rhythm both offensively and defensively in the second quarter, leading to a 14-4 run to tie the game at 17 with 4:35 left in the first half. They ended the half 26-25, down one, having outscored SUU 19-11 in the second quarter. 

Southern Utah’s junior guard Breanu Reid led the game with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The Wildcats struggled to guard her until she got in foul trouble and had to sit late in the game. 

“She’s definitely hard to guard,” Wright said. “I had to guard her for a lot of it, she’s shifty, a good player.”

A defeated Breanu Reid walks off the court after a heavy-handed, double overtime loss against Arizona. Reid had 22 points and six rebounds on the night.
A defeated Breanu Reid walks off the court after a heavy-handed, double overtime loss against Arizona. Reid had 22 points and six rebounds on the night.

As a team Arizona shot 39 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three, compared to 41 percent from the floor and 35 percent from deep for SUU. The Wildcats took four more shots than the Thunderbirds and out rebounded them 45-40. They also forced 19 turnovers but gave up 16 of their own. 

Arizona sophomore Destiny Graham posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds while freshmen Sam Thomas grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and added seven points. Thomas shot 3-for-11 in the game and played a game-high 49 minutes. 

“Together Graham and Thomas had 27 rebounds, that’s huge.” Barnes said. 

Barnes said Arizona’s defensive effort in the second half and overtime is what put them in a position to win. She also said the Wildcats are going to have to continue to be solid defensively if they want a chance to play well in the Pac-12.

Arizona begins conference play at the University of Utah Friday, December 29 at 6:00 p.m. 

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