Arizona Women's Basketball

Sam Thomas hits her shooting stride while leading Arizona to win over Utah

Sam Thomas led the way for the Arizona Wildcats in their 76-64 win over the Utah Utes on Friday night at McKale Center with a new season-high of 25 points while tying a career high with six 3-pointers.

“My family, the fans, the coaches, my teammates, everybody in the world, always want me to shoot more — it’s been a constant thing during my whole time here,” said Thomas, a fifth-year senior. “I am trying to shoot more this season, just trying to do my part.

“After I hit my first two (3-pointers), my confidence was up and my teammates kept finding me and were intentionally looking for me, which really helped.”

Thomas sparked Arizona throughout the first half, finishing with 14 points, already matching her season high. She had 14 points against Marist on Nov. 19.

The early scoring burst came from her hitting four of five 3-pointers, which already matched her season-high. She made three from beyond the arc twice before, most recently against Vanderbilt Nov. 25.

Her scoring died down a little in the second half after Utah switched from a zone defense to man-to-man, but her teammates still managed to find her for two more three-pointers. The six 3-pointers tied her career-best total she made against Washington at McKale last season.

A conventional 3-point play by Thomas with 7:20 left helped to ignite the McKale Center crowd. Her layup and free throw came after Utah cut the lead to 56-50 after Arizona led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter.

The 3-point play sparked a 10-0 run that enabled the Wildcats to extend the lead to 66-50 with 4:11 remaining. Thomas also had two free throws and a 3-pointer in that pivotal stretch.

“Sam’s capable of doing that every game,” Barnes said. “I ran the first play of the game for her, and she gained that confidence quick. She was extremely aggressive tonight, and that’s the Sam we need. We know that she can be a lockdown defender every night. She played a phenomenal game tonight and helped us win the game.”


Jake Faigus, a Phoenix native, is a senior at the University of Arizona majoring in journalism and minoring in sports management. He also has written for the student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, as well as the Arizona Fansided blog, Zona Zealots. Jake is also the stepson of former University of Arizona football player Heath Bray, a member of the famed Desert Swarm defense in the early 1990s.

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