The slow starts have been haunting Arizona women’s basketball of late. Falling behind by double digits has become routine, and it happened again at UCLA where the Wildcats were down 19-8 after the first quarter. Once again, it didn’t matter, as the team completed its third straight comeback victory with the 74-63 win.
It was the first victory for Arizona in Pauley Pavilion since Feb. 15, 2007.
“I feel like usually last year, we were like a bad third-quarter team,” said senior wing Sam Thomas. “And now we’re moving into the first quarter. So I don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re definitely gonna pick it up before Stanford because we can’t come out against Stanford and be down 18-9, whatever it was, and then try and come back and win.”
Cate Reese brought the Wildcats back in the second, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds. Arizona went into the half down by just four, and Reese ended the game with 12 points, 10 rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
But it was Shaina Pellington who battled with four fouls to score a game-high 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting. She hit 6 of her 7 free throws. Pellington also contributed two rebounds and an assist. It was her fourth double-digit scoring game in the last five contests.
Arizona head coach Adia Barnes was pleased that the Wildcats went to the line 20 times, saying she felt that with the personnel the team has they should be going about that many times. It was Pellington’s improvement that stood out, though. Pellington has hit 12 of 15 free throws in the past two games after struggling from the line for most of her Arizona career.
“I think the common denominator of that is Shaina Pellington getting to the line and making her free throws,” Barnes said. “I mean, she was six of seven, and her and Cate are the primary people that are taking our free throws.”
Thomas kept her hot hand with 19 points on 5-for-6 outside shooting, improving to 16 of 23 in her last four games. She added three rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Thomas hit the 200th 3-point shot of her college career in the second quarter, becoming just the fourth Wildcat to hit that mark.
Koi Love added nine points, three rebounds, and a steal. Love came out with the starters in the second half, replacing Lauren Ware.
“Koi kind of gave us momentum,” Barnes said. “I thought she was doing a good job of getting steals, rebounds, finding ways to score. And I think Lauren was having a tough time scoring and giving us a presence inside. I think, at that time, just giving us a defensive presence and scoring was kind of what we needed. And UCLA plays small.”
After falling behind big in the first quarter, Arizona kicked into gear in the second. They outscored the Bruins 24-17 to go into the half down by just four.
UCLA continued to fight in the second half, even after losing star Charisma Osborne. It was a one-point game until Arizona went on a 12-0 run over the final four minutes of the game to seal the win.