Bruins Defeat Bowling Green in First Round of NCAA Tournament, 74-61

March 19, 2006

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - UCLA's seven-year NCAA tournament drought is history.

Two weeks after claiming their first Pac-10 tournament title, the fifth-seeded Bruins finally ended their postseason misery by defeating 12th-seeded Bowling Green 74-61 Sunday - their first NCAA win since beating Colorado State in the 1999 regional semifinals.

UCLA (21-10) hosts Purdue on Tuesday night in the Cleveland Regional.

As usual, it was the Bruins' athletic trio of Noelle Quinn, Lisa Willis and Nikki Blue leading the way. Willis had 23 points, 12 rebounds and five 3-pointers while Quinn had 21 points and seven rebounds. Blue had seven points and six assists, but helped the Bruins respond each time they were challenged.

The Falcons (28-3) entered the tournament with a 19-game winning streak, tied with Ohio State for the nation's second longest, and were hoping to become the first Mid-American Conference team to win an NCAA game since 1996.

Ali Mann had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Liz Honegger finished with 15 points and five rebounds to keep them close.

But the MAC champs couldn't overcome their poorest defensive performance of the season. UCLA shot 56.7 percent from the field in the first half and made 10-of-25 3-pointers in the game to become the first team to score 70 points all season against Bowling Green.

When the Falcons tried to push the tempo early, they broke to a 9-5 lead and led 15-13 midway through the first half.

Then the UCLA trio responded. The three combined for 12 points in a decisive 16-0 run that made it 29-15.

Trailing 42-28 at the half, Bowling Green rallied by opening the second half on a 10-2 run to close to 44-38.

But again the Bruin guards took over. Willis and Quinn combined on four straight 3-pointers, extending the lead to 56-44 with 13:15 left, and they sealed the victory by combining for eight points in a 10-3 flurry that made it 72-55.

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