TUCSON, Ariz. — For the second time this season, the Utah women's basketball team came away victorious in overtime in Pac-12 play, defeating Arizona, 65-60 on Thursday evening.
In a tight second half that featured six ties and four lead changes and came down to the wire, the Utes (9-8, 2-4 Pac-12) were buoyed in the final minutes by Rachel Messer, who hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 51-51 with 1:20 remaining. Following an Arizona turnover, she again nailed a shot from behind the arc with 33 seconds left to put the Utes in the lead, 54-51.
After a timeout, the Wildcats Davellyn Whyte answered with her own three to again tie the game with 23 seconds left. The Utes took a timeout, and Janita Badon could not get off a clean shot as the buzzer sounded.
The overtime period started with missed 3-pointers for each team before Badon hit a layup to get the scoring started for the Utes. Although Arizona's Shanita Arnold answered with a jumper, Utah would score the next two buckets on layups from Badon and Taryn Wicijowski (who sunk her basket as the shot clock timer went off) for a four-point lead, 60-56 with 1:26 left.
The two teams traded baskets to keep Utah in the lead by four points. Arnold cut the lead to two, 62-60, with a layup with 29 seconds remaining, but with time winding down the Wildcats were forced into fouling the Utes. Badon hit two free throws and Michelle Plouffe was good on one of two, while Arizona missed two three's at the other end of the floor to clinch the victory for the Utes.
"It was a great win," Utah head coach Anthony Levrets said. "I am really proud of these kids and their effort tonight. They are an incredibly resilient group. When things are at their toughest is when we seem to find something and play our best. This group finds that extra something when times are tough. And now the challenge for us is to find that all the time."
Badon, who led Utah in scoring with 22 points, scored eight points in the extra stanza. Wicijowski and Plouffe each had double-doubles, Wicijowski with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Plouffe with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Utah was strong on the boards with a 46-37 advantage, including 19 offensive rebounds. Although Arizona shot 50 percent in the second half, they were held to just 33 percent shooting in overtime (3-of-9) while the Utes were 4-of-6 from the field in the OT period (67 percent).
Utah's first Pac-12 win also came in overtime, a 49-36 win over Washington.
Arizona was led by 32 points from Whyte.
Utah continues its road trip by traveling across the state to Tempe to face Arizona State on Saturday, Jan. 21.
BYU 72, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 48: At Los Angeles, Kristen Riley's season-high 22 points led the BYU women's basketball team to its sixth-straight win in West Coast Conference play.
"I'm really happy with the win," BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. "It was a great team effort and a good win on the road. These guys are tough to play here. I think Riley played another great game. Defensively he did a great job on their top player. In the second half, I thought Lexi Eaton and Jennifer Hamson really gave us a big lift. Jen played very aggressive in the post."
Riley led the game in points and rebounds, securing her third double-double of the season and seventh of her career with 10 boards. Riley shot 9-for-13 from the field and had four assists. True freshman Eaton also had a stellar performance, tying her career high of 16 points and contributing two steals and three rebounds.
Hamson was close behind Riley in rebounding with eight boards and four blocks. Haley Steed, No. 1 in the WCC and No. 7 in NCAA Division I women's basketball for assists, had nine assists in the victory with four rebounds and three steals.
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