Women: Arizona 61, UCLA 57
After trailing by 15 points in the first half, the No. 12-seed Arizona Wildcats (16-16, 4-15 Pac-12) used their youthful inexperience and even more will to win their way to a 61-57 victory over No. 5-seed UCLA (14-17, 9-10 Pac-12).
"It is about how bad you want it," said Arizona coach Niya Butts. "It has nothing to do with shots. With us all year long, smaller folks are making plays on bigger people and it doesn't matter. It matters what's in your heart. We had two seniors on the floor and we wanted to get that stop. It would not have mattered who was in the game."
The Wildcats started making their comeback with 6:48 left in the first half on a layup by 5-foot-5 sophomore Candice Warthen. Thanks to this layup, a 9-0 run over four minutes, and limiting UCLA to scoring six points in the last seven minutes of the half, Arizona went into halftime trailing by three points 33-30.
"We have done this all year long and fortunately we were on the better end of it this time," said Butts. "Fortunately we were able to get stops and that has been the difference throughout conference games. All of our games have had this type of tone and pace where we could get shots when we needed them but could not get stops. Today we were able to get big stops."
The second half was full of an equal amount of drama for both teams with three lead changes and four tied scores. Yet it was Warthen again at the end who hit a jumper with two-tenths of a second to play that gave the Wildcats the go-ahead bucket.
"I knew that I had to get a good shot off," said Warthen. "I shot with confidence and as soon as I let it go, I knew it was going in."
UCLA started out the game in control by shooting 46.7 percent from the field. But it was the loss of focus, a few missed shots by 6-foot-1 junior guard/forward Markel Walker and allowing Arizona to keep the game close that was too much to overcome.
"It was a disappointing end to our season, but I give a lot of credit to Arizona who has had a lot of resilience throughout the season," said UCLA coach Cori Close. "To have the fighting spirit that they have, I credit their team and staff with coming up for the victory.
"For us we had some mistakes down the stretch that put us in tough positions. We got opportunities, but sometimes those didn't fall. We will always look back at the plays we could of and should have made, but they have overcome adversity and been resilient. As a coach I will always be grateful to them for that."
Arizona was led by senior guard Davellyn Whyte's 18 points and Warthen's 17 points. UCLA was led by Walker's double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds. Also helping the UCLA effort was 6-foot-1 senior guard Rebekah Gardner who has emerged from an assisting role to a leadership role in one season.
Arizona will now face No. 4-seed and cross state rival Arizona State tomorrow at 2:15 pm at the Galen Center.