Shaina Pellington scores 35, No. 18 Arizona tops No. 4 Utah
TUCSON, Arizona (AP) — Shayna Pellington hit 11 straight shots on her way to a career-high 35 points, outscoring No. 18 Arizona over No. 4 Utah 82-72 Friday Night.
Kate Reese added 16 points to the Wildcats (20-6, 10-5). Helena Pueyo scored 12 points including four free throws in the last 90 seconds.
“I’m on fire,” Pellington said. “I feel like when I saw the first one come in, the second one come in, the third one come in… It just went on and on and on. I also wanted to make sure my shots made sense during the game.”
Arizona snapped the Utes’ seven-game winning streak and avenged an 80-79 loss in Salt Lake City a month ago.
Allison Pealy scored 26 points, Jenna Johnson 19, and Gianna Niepkens 13 for The Bluff (22-3, 12-3), which entered the highest rated in the program’s history.
“It was hard to lose with 1.5 seconds left on free throws,” Arizona Coach Adiya Barnes said of the game in Salt Lake City. “We were really focused at home and we need these wins. Everyone needs these victories. We are all chasing the top four in the Pac-12 tournament. We’re in the playoffs.”
Pellington scored 23 points in the first half, making all 10 field goals. She made her first shot in the second half before missing.
Pellington finished 13 of 18 with eight rebounds and five steals.
“This game will help us in many ways,” Barnes said. “I went out and fought a very good team from Utah. We’re starting to peak at the right time.”
Utah closed a 10-point gap to 76–72 thanks to Peeley’s three-point play 1:08 before Madi Konner hit two free throws to take a 78–72 lead 48.4 seconds before Utah was called for an intentional foul. The Utes missed a three-pointer on the next possession and were 4 of 19 from long range.
“That’s what it all came down to,” said Utah Coach Lynn Roberts. “We missed shots. It’s just that sometimes the game goes like this. This game was optional. Our backs were not pressed against the wall. It was an incredibly physical game. Our offense is based on the movement of the ball and the movement of the player. It was hard to do. We couldn’t even cut ourselves.”
Utah, sixth in Division I in scoring, was 12.7 points below average. Arizona beat their fourth team this season after wins over Baylor, Oregon and UCLA.
Utah beat the Wildcats on January 15, with the lead changing hands twice in the final two seconds. A steal and layup by Paris Clark gave Arizona a 79-78 lead. After a timeout in Utah, Peeley was fouled after catching a long pass and with one second left, made two free throws.
The Wildcats drew 8,238, the second-highest total this season after a 9,868 draw against Stanford last Friday. The largest crowd the Utes saw this season was 6,289 in Oregon.
Utah: The only other losses for the Utes are Pac-12 teams finishing 3rd at Stanford and 21st at Colorado. With a strong finish, they could capture one of eight receiving grounds in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, marking another first program.
Arizona: The Wildcats can look forward to their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, and a win over the Youts helps make that journey one step easier.
Utah: in Arizona on Sunday.
Arizona: Hosts Colorado No. 21 on Sunday.
AP Women’s College Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter .com/AP_Top25