Nikki Blue Leads Women's Basketball To 86-81 Win Over Washington
Feb. 3, 2005
Los Angeles, Calif. - In a back-and-forth affair that featured 13 lead changes, the UCLA women's basketball team defeated Washington, 86-81, in Pauley Pavilion Thursday night. UCLA's record improves to 14-7, 8-4 in the Pac-10, while Washington drops to 9-13, 5-7.
Freshman Lindsey Pluimer brought UCLA to a 31-29 halftime lead, scoring 14 first-half points. The Bruins forced 13 turnovers in the first half, with Nikki Blue making four steals. Blue finished the game with a career-high tying eight steals and a game-high 23 points.
Washington opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take a 36-33 lead before Pluimer hit a three-pointer to tie it at 17:27, and the teams traded leads nine more times in the next five minutes. Both teams were very efficient on the floor, shooting a combined 54% from the field in the second half (UCLA was 17-30 for 57%, and Washington shot 16-31 for 52%). The Bruins shot a whopping 83.3% from beyond the arc in the second period, making 5-6 shots, while the Huskies shot 50% on 7-14 shots.
Washington appeared to have momentum after UCLA's Nikki Blue was called for a personal and technical foul at the 3:24 mark. Kayla Burt and Cameo Hicks each hit one free throw to give Washington a three-point lead, 79-76. However, UCLA came right back on a pair of Ortal Oren free throws at 2:54 to cut the lead to 79-78. After a Washington turnover, Blue hit a one-handed running jumper for the 80-79 lead at 2:09 and then stole the ball on the next play and earned a trip to the free throw line, where she made one of two shots to give UCLA an 81-79 advantage.
After a missed shot by Washington, which was boarded by Oren, Lisa Willis connected on a 22-footer at 1:12 to increase the lead to 84-79. Breanne Watson made it 84-81 on a pair of free throws with 32 seconds to play, then Oren hit one of two free throws to make it a two-possession game. Jill Bell's pass attempt went out of bounds, and Willis was fouled with 18.8 seconds to play. She made one free throw, then Burt missed on a wild three-point attempt, and the Bruins ran out the clock.
Blue led all players with 23 points and added eight assists and eight steals. Three of her teammates joined her in double figures - Pluimer with 21, and Amanda Livingston and Willis with 17 apiece. Pluimer and Willis had eight rebounds apiece. For Washington, Burt had career-best numbers with 20 points and eight rebounds. She also tied her career-high with four three-pointers. The Huskies tied a season-high with 10 threes. Cheri Craddock (11 points) and Watson (10 points) also scored in double figures.
UCLA will next face Washington State on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 1 pm in a game nationally televised by Fox Sports Net. Washington will travel to USC on Saturday, Feb. 5 for a 4 pm game.