Platinum-selling artist Beyonce Knowles may not know it, but she helped UCLA advance to the women's Pac-10 conference tournament final on Saturday night.
A sparse Galen Center crowd, which included football coach Rick Neuheisel, was on its feet as UCLA trailed USC by one with less than four minutes remaining in the semifinal game. To heighten the intensity, Darxia Morris stepped up to the line three times with a chance to tie the score but missed each free throw.
UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell sensed Morris was tense, so she called her over and asked her who her favorite singer was. "Beyonce," Morris responded.
"Sometimes I come up with stuff like that, I'm a little corny," Caldwell said.
Morris missed another free throw before finally sinking the tying shot.
"When it went in, I was like, 'Wow,' " said Morris, who scored a game-high 16 points.
After Morris' free throw, the Bruins would score the game's final six points. Game over, 59-53 in favor of No. 2-seeded UCLA. Beyonce, a thank you note is on its way.
"If we have to do it all over again, I want Darxia Morris at the free-throw line," Caldwell added. "I knew she was pressing."
UCLA will play top-seeded Stanford in the final on Sunday at 3 p.m.