Bruins Come Up Short Against Utes
The UCLA women's basketball team (11-11, 6-8) dropped a 75-70 decision to the University of Utah (16-9, 7-6) in a Pac-12 game played in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom on Sunday afternoon. It was the last regular season home contest for eight Bruins – Chantel Horvat, Kayla Owens, Kiara Jefferson, Gina Conti, Natalie Chou, IImar'I Thomas, Jaelynn Penn and Eliana Sigal. Thomas led a trio of UCLA seniors in double-digits with 20 points and added 9 rebounds. Chou chipped in with 15 points and Penn totaled 11.
UCLA's last-minute rally attempt came up short as the Bruins reduced a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to three but could not pull closer. Utah converted 57% of its second half shots and used the hot shooting to move out to a 61-49 lead with 6:20 remaining in the contest. Thomas's offensive rebound basket sliced that margin in half, at 61-55, with 4:53 to play. A couple of free throws by Thomas helped UCLA close to 66-61 with 2:50 to go. The Bruins still trailed 72-65 at the 25-second mark when Chou poured in a couple of free throws to narrow the deficit to five at 72-67. After Utah hit one of two free throws, Angela Dugalić added an offensive rebound basket and a free throw to narrow to gap to 73-70 with 12 seconds remaining. UCLA fouled on the inbounds play but the Utes knocked down both free throws for the final margin.
UCLA raced out to a 35-27 halftime lead using its defensive energy to limit Utah to just 3-15 shooting in the second quarter as the Bruins outscored the Utes 10-3 over the final five minutes to move into the five-point cushion at the break. The Bruins used three-point shots from Thomas, Chou and Izzy Antsey during the second quarter to key the offense which also hit six out of seven free throw attempts. Utah connected on just one of eight field goal attempts to finish out the quarter.
Utah reversed its shooting woes in the second half and started the second-half on fire. The visitors tallied the first eight points of the second half and then added the last eight of the third quarter on their way to outscoring the Bruins 25-9 for the frame to take a 52-44 lead into the final quarter. The Utes broke a 44-all tie with a 10-0 run the take control. The Bruins converted just two of 13 field goal attempts during the quarter.
In the first quarter, UCLA ran off eight straight points after Utah had taken an early 7-4 lead to move out to a 12-7 advantage at the 6:43 mark. The Utes came back to go up 14-13 with 4:11 to play, but Thomas nailed her second three-point shot of the quarter to push UCLA back in front 16-14. The Utes connected on just one of nine field goal attempts through the balance of the first quarter and UCLA was able to grab an 18-17 lead on Chou's spinning shot in the lane with 1:08 left in the quarter.
UCLA will return to the court on Thursday evening at No 8 Arizona in a 6 p.m. PT game which will be aired on Pac-12 Network Los Angeles.