UCLA 54 - Utah 43
SEATTLE – Utah’s hot streak came to an end Friday at the hands of UCLA as the Bruins advanced to Saturday’s semifinals of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament at KeyArena with a 54-43 win over the Utes.
The game was not without competitive drama.
UCLA held the 29-20 advantage at the half, but a Cheyenne Wilson jumper at 9:30 in the second period capped a 17-4 Utah run to put the Utes ahead at 37-35 for their first lead all game. The rally brought Utah's vocal fans to their feet.
From there, UCLA rediscovered its offense and pulled away for the win.
“Survive and advance, you know?" UCLA coach Cori Close said. "We always preach that defense and rebounding will hold you when you have a poor offensive game. Our defense and our rebounding is with us, and we're thankful to be able to play another day.”
Atonye Nyingfa, Alyssia Brewer and Jasmine Dixon all scored in double digits for UCLA. Dixon reached 1,001 career points in the first half, becoming the second current Bruin to eclipse the 1,000-point mark. Senior Markel Walker has 1,278 career points.
Utah's Michelle Plouffe, a 2012 Olympian for Team Canada, notched her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Wilson and Taryn Wicijowski also finished with 10 points apiece.
UCLA’s Brewer left the game midway through the first half with a tweaked knee. She returned in the second half with no signs of injury to finish with 10 points and seven boards.
UCLA meets Cal in the first semifinal Saturday at 6 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks. Cal beat UCLA by a combined 33 points in their two previous meetings this year.
What did the Bruins learn in those games?
“There is good news and there is bad news," Close said. "The good news is it's not a difficult scouting report. The bad news is [Cal] is very difficult to level out.
"We said to our team, ‘Be physical and rebound and then be physical some more and rebound some more.’ ... It's going to take a relentless spirit and a competitive nature. It's going to be a phenomenally competitive game, and we're excited to have the opportunity to play in it.”