UCLA: Pac-10 Tournament

Basketball: UCLA women run out of steam

March, 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- Nikki Caldwell knew it was coming.

She knew top-seeded Stanford, with all its weapons, couldn't stay down for long. UCLA had the energy, the intensity and even the double-digit lead. It appeared the Bruins would finally knock off their toughest competitor. They just didn't have enough, as second-ranked Stanford avoided the upset and captured its eight Pac-10 tournament championship in 10 years, 65-44, at Staples Center.

The second-seeded Bruins led by 11 early in the second half and by six with under 10 minutes left, but the Cardinal (29-2) finished on a 24-9 run to cut down the nets. Ninth-ranked UCLA (27-4) lost to Stanford for the third time this season.

"This group did an amazing job, pretty much, for 32 minutes," Caldwell said. "This group is tough and resilient, but we couldn't go deep into our bench tonight and I think that hurt us a bit. When you're playing a team like Stanford, who has so many weapons -- their ability to shoot from the perimeter, their ability to score in the paint -- you can't give them both. You've got to be able to take one of them away."

All things clicked in the first half. The Bruins took away Stanford's inside game, outscoring the Cardinal 16-8 in the paint. UCLA was solid in transition, capitalizing with 14 points off turnovers while Stanford had none. The Bruins went into the break on a 21-5 run that gave them a 30-21 lead after trailing by as many as seven.

"We always love a team that gives us a good challenge," said Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike, the tournament's most outstanding player for the second straight year. "They were taking the ball out of our hands. We just needed to figure out what we had to do."

Nnemkadi had the answer, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds in the second half. Stanford's Toni Kokenis had 17 points off the bench. All but two of UCLA's points came from the starting five -- Doreena Campbell had 16 and Darxia Morris and Markel Walker each had 12. The Bruins had been 19-0 this season when three players scored in double figures.

"This was a great game," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I just want to first of all congratulate UCLA for a great season. They had us on the ropes and, you know, we had to really battle to come back."

VanDerveer, whose team will likely receive a No. 1 seeding when the bracket for the women's NCAA tournament is released Monday, later added that she says she believes UCLA deserves a No. 2 seeding.

Basketball: Defense gets Bruins into title game

March, 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- Rust? What rust?

The second-seeded UCLA women's basketball team showed little signs of it Friday afternoon, beating California 63-50 in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals at Staples Center. By finishing in second place in the conference standings, UCLA had been rewarded with a free pass through the first two rounds. It had been a week since the Bruins played competitively.

It didn't look that way, though.

"Our mindset was to make sure that we came into the game with great intensity," coach Nikki Caldwell said. "They understand that we have to do it on the defensive end. That's who we are and that's how we get our transition game going. That's how we get easy looks, that's how we turn people over. To me, that's a fun way to play this game."

Winning, of course, is fun. And UCLA has done plenty of it this season, improving to 27-3 overall and 15-1 away from Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins have won 12 of 13, with the lone loss coming to their next opponent, second-ranked Stanford. The title game is set to tip off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

UCLA raced out to an 11-1 lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 23 early in the second half. Atonye Nyingifa led the Bruins with 17 points and nine rebounds. Darxia Morris had 14, Doreena Campbell had 12. UCLA improved to 19-0 this season when three players score in double figures.

"For me, personally, this is it," said Campbell, a senior. "We're going to the end now and every game counts, you know. Every game is that one last game that you'll remember. Why not put it on the line?"

UCLA, ranked No. 9 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, figures to receive a good seeding in the NCAA tournament, win or lose Saturday against the Cardinal.

"I just hope that they continue to play as a unit," Caldwell said, "and we'll see how far that takes us."
Schedule of game for this week's Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center:
Game 1 -- Wednesday: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Oregon State , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 2 -- Wednesday: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Arizona State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 3 -- Thursday: No. 4 USC vs. No. 5 California, Noon TV: FSN
Game 4 -- Thursday: No. 1 Arizona vs. Game 1 winner, 2:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 5 -- Thursday No. 2 UCLA vs. Game 2 winner , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 6 -- Thursday: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Washington State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 7 -- Friday: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 winner 6, p.m. TV: FSN
Game 8 -- Friday: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 winner , 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Final -- Saturday: Pac-10 Tournament Championship, 3 p.m.. TV: CBS



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