No. 1 UCLA Gymnasts Defeat No. 5 Georgia By Narrowest Of Margins
March 18, 2001
Los Angeles, CA - The top-ranked UCLA gymnastics team squeaked by fifth-ranked Georgia in front of 3,738 fans in Pauley Pavilion, 197.475-197.375. Senior Mohini Bhardwaj, competing in her final regular season home meet, was as close to perfect as can be, recording a new school record of 39.975 out of 40 in the all-around. Bhardwaj's total is the second-highest in NCAA history, with only a 40.0 from former Georgia great Karin Lichey in 1996 topping it.
The Bruins took the lead after one rotation, posting a 49.525 on the vault to Georgia's 49.3 on the uneven bars. Bhardwaj paced UCLA with a 9.975, receiving a 9.95 from one judge in what turned out to be her only blemish of the afternoon.
UCLA increased its lead to .525 after two rotations, scoring a 49.6 on the uneven bars. Four Bruins scored 9.9 or better - Doni Thompson (9.925), Yvonne Tousek (9.9), Jamie Dantzscher (9.95) and Bhardwaj (10.0). For Bhardwaj, the defending NCAA bars champion, it was her second consecutive 10 on the event and her third overall on bars.
Georgia overtook UCLA in the third rotation after a 49.525 on the floor exercise. Chelsa Byrd (9.925), Cory Fritzinger (9.9), Marline Stephens (9.95) and Suzanne Sears (9.925) closed the set with four straight 9.9+ scores. Meanwhile, on the balance beam, UCLA ran into a few problems, with one fall and two other major deductions. However, Onnie Willis' 9.875 and Tousek's career-high tying 9.95 helped stop the bleeding, and Bhardwaj's first-ever perfect 10 on beam brought the Bruins to a respectable 48.75 total.
Down by a quarter of a point heading into the last rotation, the Bruins' chances looked bleak when their first two athletes received out-of-bounds deductions. Georgia remained tough on the balance beam, recording a 49.25. However, UCLA's bottom four of the lineup hit, with Kristen Maloney scoring a 9.925 and Willis and Dantzscher recording back-to-back 9.975s. Needing a 9.9 to tie, Bhardwaj clinched the victory when she closed the competition with her third 10 of the meet. Bhardwaj now has eight career perfect 10s, most in school history.
In addition to winning all four events, Bhardwaj won the all-around with, snapping teammate's Onnie Willis' four-meet win streak. Willis placed second with a 39.625. Fritzinger was third with a 39.575.
'There's no other way I would want to finish my last home meet, except maybe getting that 10 on vault,' Bhardwaj said. 'It was the best way I could have gone out, knowing I was that close to perfect.'
UCLA returns to action Saturday, Mar. 24 at the Pac-10 Conference Championships in Seattle, WA.
TEAM: 1. UCLA 197.475, 2. Georgia 197.375
VAULT: 1. Bhardwaj (UCLA) 9.975*, 2. Willis (UCLA) 9.95, 3. Suzanne Sears (UGA) 9.925.
BEAM: 1. Bhardwaj (UCLA) 10.0*, 2. Yvonne Tousek (UCLA) 9.95*, 3T. Cassie Bair (UGA) 9.925, 3T. Fritzinger (UGA) 9.925
FLOOR: 1. Bhardwaj (UCLA) 10.0*, 2T. Willis (UCLA) 9.975, 2T. Dantzscher (UCLA) 9.975
* - career-high, - school record