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Arizona women's basketball team wins on Shaina Pellington's buzzer-beater
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Arizona women's basketball team wins on Shaina Pellington's buzzer-beater

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Arizona guard Shaina Pellington, seen here in a game on Nov. 15, hit the game-winning shot Thursday as the Wildcats held off Vanderbilt to stay unbeaten.

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Ninth-ranked Arizona was just seconds away from being forced into overtime. Shaina Pellington made sure that didn’t happen.

Pellington hit an off-balance layup at the buzzer to lift the Wildcats past pesky Vanderbilt 48-46 on Thursday in the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament.

With the game tied at 46, Arizona put the ball in Pellington’s hands. She drove from the left wing and her off-balance scoop layup dropped in just before the horn sounded, setting off a celebration under the Wildcats’ basket.

“We were running a different action, but then she saw an open lane because the pass wasn’t open,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “She hesitated for a bit, but I thought she was just going to go, she made a great play. “We got lucky, because they should’ve won the game the way they played. ... We should all run out of here and wipe our foreheads because we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sam Thomas had 13 points and Ariyah Copeland 11 points for the Wildcats (5-0), who survived an upset attempt by the Commodores (3-3).

Demi Washington and Iyana Moore had 10 points each for Vanderbilt, which rallied from going down by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter.

“Obviously, when you lose a game like that you’re disappointed,” said first-year Vanderbilt coach Shea Ralph, a former assistant at UConn. “I felt we could’ve won it, Our defense was so good all game. We just needed one stop at the end, and we couldn’t get it.

“There’s opportunities for us to learn from this. On the flip side, our team has grown so much over the last couple of weeks. There are no moral victories, but I’m happy to see how we’re coming together and maturing.”

Arizona led 22-7 with 6:30 left in the second on Lauren Ware’s layup, but the Commodores fought back to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 24-16 at the half.

Vanderbilt then mounted a rally in the fourth quarter, eventually tying it at 46-all on Brinae Alexander’s layup with 7.6 seconds remaining,

It was the lowest-scoring game of the season so far for Arizona, which is back in the Top 10 for the first time this year. The Wildcats came into the game averaging nearly 80 points (79.8), but Vanderbilt held them 31 points below that average.

The Commodores forced the Wildcats into 25 turnovers.

Arizona faces DePaul (4-1) on Friday in the second of three games at the Paradise Jam, while Vanderbilt will play Rutgers.

DePaul beat Rutgers 77-74 on Thursday.

Other Top 25 games

NASSAU, Bahamas — Cameron Brink had 21 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks to help seventh-ranked Stanford edge No. 4 Indiana 69-66 on Thursday at the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship tournament.

Brink, who set a career high on the boards, also added five assists for the Cardinal (4-1) and made one of two free throws with 6.8 seconds left to make it a three-point game.

Indiana had one last chance, but Ali Patberg’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

No. 5 NC State 78, No. 2 Maryland 60: In Nassau, Bahamas, Elissa Cunane scored 20 points, making eight of her nine shots from the field, to help NC State roll at the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship tournament.

No. 6 Baylor 68, Fordham 45: In Cancun, Mexico, NaLyssa Smith had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Lewis added 15 points with six assists and Baylor rallied in the second half to win at the Cancun Challenge.

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