UCLA Makes Championship Game With Win Over Cal

by Lara Boyko

- Photo gallery

- Post-game press conference

After an 11-1 run to start the game and an intense press that never seemed to let up, two-seed and No.7/9-ranked UCLA (27-3, 16-2 Pac-10) advanced to tomorrow's championship game with a 63-50 win over sixth-seed California (17-15, 7-11 Pac-10).

"Our mindset was, because we've been off since last Saturday, was to make sure that we came into the game with great intensity," said UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell. "We talked about you have a choice every time that you step on the floor, and you have a choice to go toe-to-toe with your opponent and compete with them at a level that's higher than them or you can stay even with them or below them. I thought tonight, for the most part, our team made the choice to elevate their play."

This strong start and first half helped the Bruins go into halftime with a solid 37-23 lead. UCLA started the second half of play with an 11-2 run that was too much for California to handle.

"Just disappointed with our effort, and just trying to get our team to compete," said California coach Joanne Boyle. "It kind of tells the story of our season how we'll compete and then we shut it down."

UCLA controlled the game from start to finish as California was never able to break through a double-digit deficit. UCLA was able to stay in control of the game with relentless defense.

"We struggled on the boards and we struggled to make lay-ups," said Boyle. "Our confidence was shook. I just felt like we played tentative at times and that press got us rattled."

The Bruins were led by Atonye Nyingifa's 17 points and Darxia Morris' 14 points. From the field, UCLA shot 44.6% and 12.5% from the three-point line.

The Golden Bears were led by Arfure Jemerigbe's 17 points. California shot 34% from the field, 15.8% from three-point land and was out-rebounded by the Bruins 40-32.

"I'm excited for this team and excited that they've put themselves in a position to play for a Pac-10 championship," said Caldwell.

UCLA will meet one-seed Stanford in tomorrow's Pacific Life Pac-10 Basketball Tournament championship game at 11:30 am.

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