Arizona Women's Basketball

No. 10 Arizona overwhelms No. 22 Colorado in second half behind Pellington, Reese

Colorado couldn’t guard Shaina Pellington and the senior leader at point guard gave the 22nd-ranked Buffaloes fits guarding them.

Pellington finished with 28 points, her best scoring performance in her career at Arizona, while also producing three steals in the 75-56 victory Sunday in front of 7,103 fans at McKale Center.

Pellington didn’t achieve a career-high — she had 33 points against Western Kentucky with Oklahoma in the 2018-19 season.

She said that she was a scorer for the Sooners before transferring to Arizona. Her confidence needed a boost after adjusting first to being a backup to three-time All-American guard Aari McDonald and then proving she can handle the point guard duties for Adia Barnes.

Her impact with Barnes and the Wildcats really evolved from the NCAA championship game against Stanford in which she had 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. She has hit two game-winning shots this season against Vanderbilt and Oregon State.

“For me, it’s seeing the ball going into the hoop,” Pellington said. “When I see the ball go into the hoop, I’m pretty much fearless at that point.”

Cate Reese added 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field with nine rebounds for No. 10 Arizona, which embarks on a three-games-in-five-days road trip starting Wednesday at UCLA.

The Wildcats (14-2, 4-2 Pac-12) have won five of their last six games against ranked opponents dating to last season’s March Madness run.

Behind the scoring of Pellington, Reese and Sam Thomas, Arizona turned a 38-34 deficit with 6:44 left in the third quarter into the rout.

Arizona trailed 21-9 with 8:07 left in the second quarter before the Wildcats’ offensive execution came to life.

The Wildcats, who mustered a season-low seven points in the first quarter, made only five of their first 18 shots.

“There was a lack of intensity; sometimes I hate noon games but we have to suck it up,” said Barnes, who now has the second-most wins in Arizona coaching history at 103, trailing Joan Bonvicini’s 287 wins.

“We did not play the way we should but after that (timeout late in the first quarter) I felt like it was a completely different game. It is a credit to us that we battled back and made stops and got momentum.”

Arizona made 6 of 8 shots from the field to close the first half. The stretch included two 3-pointers by Thomas and another shot from beyond the arc by Pellington at the shot-clock buzzer with 54 seconds left.

Helena Pueyo then had her second blocked shot of the first half that later resulted in Reese making a layup to tie the game at 29 points with 16 seconds left in the half.

Colorado could not get a shot off in their halfcourt set as the halftime buzzer sounded. The McKale Center crowd — not the more than 10,000 that Barnes wanted — was still loud and on its feet.

“I’m happy with our character; we didn’t lay down (after the slow start),” Barnes said. “We bounced back and controlled the game. Our confidence is very good.”

Part of Arizona’s problem with its slow start was being unable to get to the free-throw line until 4:39 remained in the second quarter on Pellington’s attempt.

Pellington tried all of Arizona’s four free throws in the first half and made three. Arizona attempted only 11 free throws in the game and made nine. Pellington finished six of eight from there and Reese made all three of her tries.

Colorado, conversely, made went 17 of 24 from the free-throw line.

“We need to be more aggressive and drive the lane because we haven’t been shooting many free throws in the last couple of games,” Reese said. “It’s something we have to work on and then on the other end, making sure we are not fouling … We have to be more disciplined.”

Arizona took control in the third quarter shooting 64.3 percent from the field and outscoring Colorado 22-14.

Pellington made all four of her shots in the quarter and finished with 12 points while Reese had eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.

A 21-2 run between the third and fourth quarters effectively knocked out the Buffaloes, who are on a four-game losing streak after being the last unbeaten team in the nation.

The Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to close the third quarter to lead 51-43. They scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter behind Reese’s eight points and Pellington’s four.

Arizona shot 53.6 percent from the field while limiting Colorado to 34 percent.

Thomas finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. She is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc in her last two games. It took her eight games previously to make nine 3-pointers.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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