No. 20 Arizona pulled away in the second half Wednesday night to defeat Texas Southern 89-55. The match at McKale Center was part of 12 games set between the Pac-12 and the Southwestern Athletic Conferences (SWAC) aimed at creating a forum for competition, as well as promotion and education around issues of anti-racism and social justice according to a statement from the Pac-12.
The Wildcats led 28-17 after the first quarter and 51-40 at the break but the Tigers kept things close several times in the first half, including cutting the lead down to 21-17 with 1:56 in the first only to see Arizona end the quarter on a 7-0 run. The Tigers cut the Wildcat lead down to 34-30 with 5:31 left in the half but the final turn in the game came with 4:15 left in the second with Andriana Avent coming up short on a 3-point shot, Esmery Martinez came up with the rebound and Shaina Pellington scored at the other end to put Arizona up 41-32. The 5-point swing ended the final push in the game for the Tigers despite a made bucket from Avent on her next trip down. Avent left the game briefly at that point and Texas Southern had no answer the rest of the way.
Avent scored a game-high 21 points but 17 came in the first quarter and she was held scoreless in the fourth quarter with the Tigers committing 30 turnovers and Arizona scoring 28 off of those turnovers. Taniya Lawson scored nine points for Texas Southern and Micah Gray scored eight and Skye Green added seven but the Wildcats responded with two players putting up double-double numbers for the first time since 2019.
Cate Reese scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and Martinez had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Maya Nnaji scored 11 points and Jade Loville added 10. All eleven Wildcats scored in the game that featured a new starting lineup with Helena Pueyo taking over point guard duties until Pellington replaced her with 2:15 left in the first quarter. Pellington scored nine points and Lemyah Hylton added seven. Reese and Aari McDonald recorded double-doubles in 2019.
Texas Southern fell to 0-9 on the year under first-year head coach Vernette Skeete and the Tigers will host Tulsa (8-2) on Thursday, Dec. 22. Arizona (8-1) will play Baylor (7-2) on Sunday, Dec. 18 in Dallas as part of the Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge featuring two men’s games and two women’s games played on the same day.
Arizona fell to Kansas 77-50 at home last Thursday and the loss dropped Arizona from No.12 to No. 20 entering the game with Texas Southern.
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at email@example.com