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No. 7 Arizona Holds off No. 9 UCLA 68-65

Dec 4, 2020

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona had stretches of offensive consistency, struggled keeping UCLA off the offensive glass and had some defensive breakdowns in transition.

The Wildcats made up for it with a dominating third quarter and some big plays down the stretch to beat a top-10 team.

Not a bad way to kick off the Pac-12 season, no matter how it looked.

Trinity Baptiste had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Aari McDonald added 17 points and No. 7 Arizona held off No. 9 UCLA 68-65 on Friday night.

"It was a very ugly win," Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. "Normally, you play these type of games another month from now, so it's a big difference playing in early December. Both teams, you're not as sharp, less cohesiveness."

Arizona (2-0) went up eight on a 3-pointer by Baptiste, but the Bruins rallied with a 9-1 run, pulling within 67-65 on Charisma Osborne's 3-pointer with 12 seconds left.

Arizona's Cate Reese made 1 of 2 free throws to give UCLA (1-1) a last chance and the Bruins worked the ball around to Osborne. Her 3-pointer with 5 seconds left hit the back of the rim and UCLA couldn't get off another shot after Michaela Onyenwere grabbed the offensive rebound.

Arizona labored early against the physical Bruins and shot 6 of 25 from 3-point range. The Wildcats made up for it with stifling defense in the third quarter and some big shots late to win the first meeting with both teams in the top-10 since 1998.

UCLA used an 18-4 run spanning the first and second quarters to go up nine, but missed 17 of 18 shots in the third quarter as Arizona surged into the lead. Osborne led UCLA with 15 points, and Onyenwere finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds.

Both teams entered this pandemic-shifted season with lofty expectations.

Arizona had highest ranking ever at No. 7 in The Associated Press preseason poll with the return of McDonald, a preseason All-American, Reese and Sam Thomas

The Wildcats opened the season with a 16-point win over Northern Arizona.

UCLA had four players return from a 26-win team last season and opened at No. 9 in the AP Top 25. The Bruins crushed Cal State Fullerton 98-59 in their opener before having Sunday's game against Pepperdine postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Defense dominated early in the desert showdown.

UCLA led 14-12 after the first quarter despite going more than six minutes without a field and opened the second with an 11-2 run to go up nine. The Bruins led 38-32 at halftime.

The Bruins went cold again in the third quarter, missing 16 straight shots during a scoreless drought of nearly 6 1/2 minutes. Arizona took advantage, going on a 9-0 run to go up 48-42.

"We sort of panicked and started going one on one," Close said. "Against a team with the athleticism and defensive prowess of Arizona, that's not a good idea."

UCLA began hitting shots again in the fourth quarter to pull within 58-56 with three minutes left. McDonald followed with a putback and Baptiste hit a straight-on 3-pointer to pushed the lead back to eight.

The Bruins rallied, but came up just short.

FOR THE GAME

  • Friday marked the 100th career start and career appearance for Arizona forward Sam Thomas.
  • The match-up between No. 7 Arizona and No. 9 UCLA marked the first game Arizona has played in with both teams being ranked in the top 10 nationally since the 1997-98 season.
  • Helena Pueyo's three-pointer with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter gave Arizona the 44-43 lead, marking the Cats' first lead since their 10-7 advantage with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter.
  • Trinity Baptiste earned the first double-double of her Arizona career, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It was the Virginia Tech transfer's 13th career double-double.
  • Aari McDonald would extend her NCAA-leading streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 68 with 17 points in the win over the Bruins.
  • Newcomer Bendu Yeaney tallied only one assist in her first game as a Wildcat in the win over NAU. Yeaney quadrupled that output in the win over UCLA.
  • With Friday's victory, the Wildcats have now won five of their last seven games against top-25 opponents.

 
FIRST HALF

  • After surrendering their first field goal of the game to the Bruins, the Arizona defense held UCLA scoreless from the field for the next 6:10.
  • The Wildcats were connected on only six of their 22 field goal attempts (27.2 percent) in the first quarter before connecting on eight of 11 (72.7 percent) from the field in the second quarter.
  • Forward Trinity Baptiste tallied 11 points in 15 minutes of action in the first half against UCLA after scoring a total of 12 in 23 minutes in her team's season-opening win over NAU.