Bruins Fall To Minnesota In First Round Of NCAA Tournament

March 21, 2004

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Lindsay Whalen scored 31 points in her first game in morethan five weeks, leading Minnesota to a 92-81 victory over UCLA in the firstround of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

Janel McCarville added 19 points and 17 rebounds for the seventh-seededGophers (22-8), who will play Tuesday in a second-round Mideast Regional gameagainst No. 2 seed Kansas State.

Nikki Blue scored 20 of her 33 points after halftime for the Bruins (17-13)before fouling out in the final minute, her quickness helping keep her teamstay competitive on Minnesota's home court in front of 12,357 loud fans.

Lisa Willis and Noelle Quinn each added 15 points for 10th-seeded UCLA.

Whalen, the school's all-time leading scorer, has helped resurrect theprogram from an 8-20 record her freshman year to a third consecutive NCAAtournament appearance this season. She hadn't played since breaking two bonesin her shooting hand in a fall against Ohio State on Feb. 12, and the Gophers'3-4 finish without her cost them a better seed.

The beige brace on her right hand was the only evidence of her long layoff,though.

In a sparkling sequence midway through the first half, Whalen got a steal onthe wing, taking it the other way for a layup and foul shot to put Minnesota up25-22.

On the next possession, she drained a 3-pointer to extend the lead to six.On the jog back to the defensive end, Whalen turned to the crowd and wiggledher right hand in the air as if to say, 'I'm fine.'

UCLA, a young, athletic team that finished third in the Pac-10, fell behind54-43 after a 3-point play by Kadidja Andersson with 14:59 left.

The Bruins didn't have the brawn to move McCarville around in the middle,but they made a game of it with their ability to dribble and penetrate deep inthe lane. A 16-4 surge gave them the lead back midway through the second half,and it was close the rest of the way.

Blue tied it at 79 on shot in the lane and a free throw with 1:30 to go.Whalen answered with a twisting layup of her own to make it 81-79 Minnesota,and Blue missed her next shot to give the Gophers possession.

Whalen made two foul shots to take the lead to four with 41.1 secondsremaining, and after Quinn missed a 3-pointer from the corner, the game turnedinto a free-throw fest.

Whalen was a huge boost, but Minnesota was victorious because it hadbalance: Shannon Schonrock had 15 points, all on 3-pointers, and Anderssonscored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

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