The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

104° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 18 Arizona WBB stuns No. 4 Utah

Nathanial Stenchever

Kailyn Gilbert, a guard on the Arizona women’s basketball team, is named player of the game and awarded the honor of beating the drum for the number of wins up to that point. The Wildcats had earned two wins to this point in the season on Nov. 13 in McKale Center. The Wildcats won their second game 87-47.

The Arizona women’s basketball team defeated the No. 4 University of Utah 82-72 on Friday, Feb. 17 in McKale Center. Utah entered Friday night’s matchup ranked fourth in points per game averaging 84.7 points per game. However, the Wildcats, led by Shaina Pellington, seemed unfazed and held Utah to 72 points, snapping the visiting team’s seven-game winning streak.

“A great win tonight,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “[We] just came out and battled against a really good Utah team.”

Quarter 1:

Utah jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Wildcats responded by getting two quick buckets from Jade Loville and Pellington to take a 4-2 lead less than 2 minutes into the game. By the halfway point of the first quarter, Arizona was winning 10-5 thanks to Pellington, who contributed six of the Wildcats’ first 10 points. The Wildcats extended their lead to 10 points, leading 20-10, forcing Utah to call their first timeout of the game with a little under 3 minutes remaining in the quarter.

After calling their first timeout of the game, Utah closed the quarter by going on a 7-2 run, but the Wildcats still led 22-17 at the end of the first. Pellington was perfect from the field in the first quarter, going 5-5 and leading the Wildcats in scoring with 11 points. She was followed by Cate Reese and Loville with four points and Madison Conner with three points. The Wildcats shot 9-17 (52.9%) from the field but went 1-6 from behind the arc.

Quarter 2:

Pellington opened the second quarter with two quick baskets, but Utah scored three baskets of their own narrowing their deficit to only two points, trailing 26-24 with 8 minutes remaining in the quarter.

The Wildcats battled early foul trouble less than 5 minutes into the second. Both Esmery Martinez and Loville had three fouls to this point in the game, while six other Wildcats had committed at least one foul. Utah, after trailing 20-10 late in the first quarter, had clawed their way back to take a 32-30 lead halfway through the second quarter.

Pellington continued her hot start, tying the game up at 32-32, but went down with an ankle injury less than a minute later.

“[My ankle] doesn’t feel very good right now, it’s sore,” Pellington said after Friday night’s win. “But I feel like we have a really good athletic training staff and I feel like they will have me back and ready in time for the game against Colorado.”

The Wildcats were forced to call their first timeout of the game with just over 3 minutes remaining in the quarter, as they trailed 38-37. Pellington returned to the game following the timeout after exiting earlier in the quarter. She immediately made an impact, driving for a layup and drawing a foul. She converted both free throws and Arizona was back on top, leading 39-38.

Utah outscored the Wildcats 23-22 in the quarter but the Wildcats held a 44-40 lead at the end of the first half. Pellington was a perfect 10-10 from the field in the half, leading the Wildcats with 23 points. She was followed by Helena Pueyo and Reese, who each had six. The Wildcats went 18-30 (60%) from the field in the first half. Arizona’s 44 first-half points were a season-high for the Wildcats against a Pac-12 opponent this season.

Quarter 3:

The Wildcats scored first to open the second half. Can you guess who scored first? If you guessed Shaina Pellington, you would be correct, as she remained perfect from the field. Unfortunately, Pellington missed her first shot of the game on the ensuing possession after narrowly missing a layup, which saw the ball roll around the hoop before falling out.

4 minutes into the second half, the Wildcats were leading 53-45. Utah could not do much to stop the Wildcats, but Arizona faced a plague of players in foul trouble with 5 minutes left in the third. Martinez, Loville, Conner and Pueyo each had three fouls, while Pellington and Maya Nnaji each had two fouls.

Barnes was frustrated with the number of fouls being called against Arizona, and received a rare technical foul after displaying her frustration with the refs.

“I just thought there was a lot of stuff that wasn’t going our way,” Barnes said. “I thought at that time I needed to say what I thought.”

At the halfway point of the quarter, the Wildcats led 55-49. The Wildcats extended their lead back up to 10 points after Pueyo and Pellington both scored layups after forcing Utah turnovers on back-to-back possessions with 3 minutes left in the quarter. Utah went nearly 7 minutes without scoring a field goal, before scoring in the closing seconds of the quarter. Nonetheless, Arizona held a 63-53 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Wildcats outscored Utah 19-13 in the quarter. Pellington and Reese each had a team-high six points in the quarter, and Paris Clark was not far behind with five points.

Quarter 4:

Arizona scored first to open the fourth quarter after Pellington hit two free throws. Utah responded by scoring four straight points to cut their deficit to eight with 8 minutes left in the game. The next few minutes saw both teams trading baskets, as Arizona led 69-61 with less than 6 minutes left in the game. At the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Arizona’s lead was down to only six points.

With 2 minutes remaining in the game, Arizona was leading 72-66, but they were struggling to get their shots to fall, allowing Utah to stay close. As the game neared the final minute, Arizona’s lead was down to four points. The Wildcats were able to ice the game by hitting their free throws in the closing seconds. As the buzzer sounded, the score was 82-72 Arizona.

Key players and stats:

Arizona was led by Pellington who scored a career-high 35 points, while also hauling in eight rebounds. She was followed by Reese with 16 points and Pueyo with 12 points. Overall, Arizona went 28-55 (50.9%) from the field and went 23-30 (76.7%) from the free-throw line.

“I was in the groove,” Pellington said after scoring a career-high 35 points. “I also just wanted to make sure I was taking shots that made sense for me and the flow of the game.”

The Wildcats host the No. 21 University of Colorado Boulder on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 12:00 p.m.

Follow Nathaniel Levin on Twitter

More to Discover