Salt Lake City ?- Arizona committed 17 second-half fouls and Utah (5-4) converted 20-of-23 free throws in the final half to take a 66-60 win over the Wildcats (5-5) on Saturday afternoon in the Huntsman Center, in a game that had 21 lead changes.
Arizona finished the game shooting 42.6 percent (23-54) from the field, and held Utah to a 38.3 percent mark (18-47). Utah out-rebounded Arizona 35-28, and finished the game 25-of-31 (80.6 percent) from the free throw line. The Wildcats shot 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.
“This is a disappointing and tough loss for us,” head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “This was a hard one to lose because we played hard, but we need to play smarter. We are at a breaking point in our season right now, and we don’t want to be an average team with a .500 record. We want to be a good team, but in order to be a good team we have to play with heart and we have to play with smarts.”
Individually for Arizona, junior Jessica Arnold posted a season-high 20 points, one off her career high. Senior Joy Hollingsworth posted 17 points and seven rebounds, and junior Ashley Whisonant added 10 points and six assists.
Morgan Warburton scored 19 points for the Utes, as she shot 3-of-13 from the floor, but 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the second half alone.
Arizona took a 4-0 lead in the early minutes, and led 14-9 on an Arnold trey at the 13:30 mark. Utah responded with a 10-0 scoring run and led 19-14 with 10:19 left to play in the first half, and used a 7-0 run to lead 26-17 at the 7:18 mark. Arizona was down 29-21 with 6:00 left when the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run over 2:42 to take a 30-29 lead on a Hollingsworth three with 3:18 left. Arizona went into halftime with a 33-32 lead on 50 percent shooting (12-24) from the field, as Arnold scored 11 points in the first half alone to equal her previous season high.
The Wildcats ran into foul trouble in the second half, as Utah shot 80.6 percent (20-23) from the charity stripe. The entire second half went back-and-fourth, as the lead changed a total of 13 times. Arizona opened the second half shooting 1-of-6 from the field, but took a 45-40 lead at the 13:14 mark on a Hollingsworth layup. Arizona went up 60-59 at the 2:06 mark on a three by Whisonant. The Wildcats trailed 62-60 in the final minute, but a layup by Warburton gave the Utes a 64-60 lead with 16 seconds left to play. The Utes hit two more free throws down the stretch for the six point win. Arizona shot 36.7 percent (11-30) from the field in the second half, as the Utes shot 30 percent (6-20) from the floor.
Arizona will next host Long Beach State on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.