UCLA, USC guide Pac-10 to 5-1 Record in NCAA First Round

March 19, 2006


(7) St. John's 78, (10) California 68

Walker-21 pts/7 reb/6 ast; Gray-Lawson-17 pts/4 reb


(8) USC 67, (9) South Florida 65

Murphy-21 pts/5 reb; Kerr-16 pts/8 reb


(5) UCLA 74, (12) Bowling Green 61

Willis-23 pts/12 reb; Quinn-21 pts/7 reb

Mon., March 20


(4) Arizona State vs. (5) Utah, 7:30 p.m. MT


(3) Stanford vs. (6) Florida State, 7:30 p.m. MT

(9) Washington vs. (1) LSU, 9:30 p.m. ET


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - St. John's guard Kia Wright slashed and dashed her way to the bucket on offense. On defense, she tipped away passes on the way to some easy layups.

High school buddy and current teammate Angela Clark helped, too, with some inside buckets and Greeba Barlow added hot shooting in the second half as resurgent St. John's won its first NCAA tournament game in 18 years with a 78-68 first-round victory over California on Sunday.

St. John's, the seventh seed in the Albuquerque Region, pulled away from 10th-seed Cal in the second half. It helped that Cal's Devenei Hampton, one of the top post players in the Pac-10, was in foul trouble all afternoon.

Wright led the Red Storm with 26 points, Clark had 14 points and seven rebounds and Barlow added 21 points. Ashley Walker led the Bears with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman Alexis Gray-Lawson cut the lead to 72-66 with about a minute left, but Wright followed with two free throws and Tara Walker hit a layup off a steal to seal the game for the Red Storm.

St. John's found its shooting touch after a sloppy start.

A putback by Tara Walker gave the Red Storm a 21-20 lead with about 3:30 left in the first half, their first lead in nearly 15 minutes. Wright then hit a layup, and Clark found Monique McLean for an open 3-pointer from the right wing to help St. John's build a 32-27 halftime lead.

Wright and Clark, both juniors, attended Copiague High School on Long Island. But they weren't reunited in college until Clark transferred to St. John's from Connecticut in 2003.

Wright was a force all over the court. She hit a deep 3 early in the second half to extend the lead to eight. Later, Wright tipped away a backcourt pass, then sped alone to the basket on the break to give St. John's a 14-point lead with slightly less than 12 minutes left in the game.

It added up to a pleasant time for a rather large St. John's contingent that made the four-hour drive down Interstate 80 from the university's campus in Queens. They were loud and very visible, wearing bright red school attire.

By game's end, St. John's fans shouted 'Kia, Kia' as the band played 'New York, New York.'

The 6-foot-3 Hampton had her way inside with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. But she wasn't on the court that much, getting her fourth foul early in the second half. She fouled out with less than 10 minutes left in the game and her team down by 14 points.

Hampton was one of four freshmen in the Golden Bears' starting lineup, leading the school to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993. Gray-Lawson, the Pac-10 rookie of the year, had 17 points.


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.


NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Chloe Kerr blocked a shot by South Florida's Jessica Dickson with 16 seconds to play Sunday night and Camille LeNoir made two free throws in the last 12 seconds as USC survived the first round of the NCAA tournament, 67-65.

The Women of Troy (19-11) advanced to a game against No. 4 Duke on Tuesday night in the Bridgeport Regional. The top-seeded Blue Devils beat Southern 96-27.

Shantia Grace had a chance to tie it for the Bulls (19-12) with 4.8 seconds left, but she missed the first of two free throws. After she made the second, LeNoir was fouled with 4.1 seconds left, and she made one of two from the line to clinch the win.

Grace's desperate heave at the buzzer wasn't even close.

USC was 13-for-16 from the line in the second half, when the lead was swapped 10 times. Eshaya Murphy provided the last change, giving the Women of Troy a 65-64 lead by making both ends of a one-and-one with 25.3 seconds remaining.

Then with Dickson driving to put the Bulls back ahead, Kerr blocked the shot, tying up the ball and getting the Women of Troy the ball back on the possession arrow.

Murphy had 21 points, LeNoir 17 and Kerr 16, 14 rebounds and five blocks for USC, the No. 8 seed. Dickson led the ninth-seeded Bulls with 18 points in their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Grace added 17 and Ezria Parsons had 13.

All the second half lead changes came in the final 11:37, starting when Kerr made a pair of free throws in an 11-0 run that ended with USC leading 51-47.

Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.

South Florida had run off seven straight points to lead 47-40 with 14:25 left. Shantia Grace had a 3-pointer in the burst, and Parsons' three-point play capped it.

Then the Women of Troy rallied, and the see-saw battle went to the finish.

The Bulls led 33-32 at halftime, used a 7-2 run to start the second half to lead 40-34, then saw the Women of Troy reply with three consecutive baskets to pull even.

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