The Arizona women's basketball team rallied late to defeat No. 14 UCLA 71-66 in overtime. No. 22 Arizona trailed by double digits multiple times, but they were able to rally to knock off UCLA on the road.
The first few minutes of the first quarter did not see a lot of action. By the halfway point of the first quarter, the Wildcats and the Bruins were tied at four apiece. By the end of the quarter, UCLA held a 13-8 lead.
Overall, the first quarter featured both teams struggling to get their shots to fall. UCLA shot an abysmal 4-18 (22.2%) from the field, while Arizona was not much better, shooting 3-13 (23.1%). Only two Wildcats, Shaina Pellington and Esmery Martinez, scored. They each put up four points.
Arizona started the second quarter by going on a 4-0 run to cut their deficit to one. However, UCLA responded by going on an 8-0 run to hold a 21-12 lead, forcing Arizona to call their first timeout of the game. Arizona saw more success shooting the ball following the timeout, but they still trailed 29-23 at the end of the first half.
Arizona was outscored 16-15 in the quarter, but they shot 7-15 from the field, improving their shooting percentage from 23.1% to 46.7%. On the other hand, Arizona saw no success from behind the arc in the half, going 0-7. Pellington led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points, followed by Martinez with seven points and Jade Loville and Kailyn Gilbert each having two points.
Arizona opened the second half by going on a 9-2 run to take a 32-31 lead. The run was highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Loville. By the halfway point of the quarter, Arizona trailed 37-36 but they were 3-4 from behind the arc after making zero three-point attempts in the first half. After struggling to pick apart UCLA’s defense in the first half, Arizona was a completely different team in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Pellington went down with an injury with two minutes left in the third quarter. Following her absence, UCLA outscored Arizona 8-2 and held a 49-42 lead at the end of the quarter. After battling back, the Wildcats found themselves trailing by multiple possessions as they entered the final quarter. Loville led the team with nine points followed by Martinez, who had six of her own.
Pellington returned to start the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats struggled to cut the deficit lower than five points over the first four minutes of the quarter. With a little under five minutes remaining, the Wildcats trailed 61-50 as the game slowly slipped away from them.
However, Arizona responded and tied the game up at 61-61 with one minute remaining after going on an 11-0 run. After stopping UCLA late, Arizona called a timeout with two seconds left in the game with a chance to win. Arizona inbounded the ball to Pellington, but her game-winning shot fell short and the game was headed to overtime, tied at 61 apiece.
The Wildcats started overtime on a 4-0 run, but UCLA responded with a 3-pointer as the Wildcats led 65-64 with three minutes left in OT. The next three minutes saw neither team score, with both teams playing sloppy basketball. The Wildcats extended their lead after Pellington hit two free throws with 35 seconds left.
However, on the ensuing possession, Arizona fouled UCLA’s Kiki Rice as she drove to the basket, giving her two free throws. Rice missed both attempts, but UCLA was able to get the rebound and a call timeout with 15 seconds, trailing 67-64. Following the timeout, UCLA scored a layup bringing their deficit down to a single point with nine seconds remaining in the game.
Sophomore Madison Conner hit both of her free throws after being fouled by UCLA in the closing seconds, giving Arizona a 69-66 lead. UCLA failed to score a late game three and Arizona held on, winning 71-66 in overtime. Arizona closed the game on a 21-5 scoring run to upset UCLA on head coach Adia Barnes's birthday.
Arizona as a team shot 41.7% from the field and 17-20 from the free-throw line. Pellington led the team in scoring with 21 points, followed by Martinez, who had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Another key player was Loville, who finished with 13 points and went 3-6 from the 3-point line.
Arizona is now 17-5 (7-4). They play USC on the road on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1 p.m.
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