4:15 PM ET, March 3, 2007
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Charli Turner Thorne threw both arms up in delight, celebrating Arizona State's successful day on the boards."We outrebounded them -- whoo hoo!" the coach said of the Sun Devils' 39-28 margin. "That's big news for us. We felt if we could control the boards we could control the game."Emily Westerberg scored five straight points during a key second-half stretch to finish with 13, leading Arizona State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) past UCLA 74-64 Saturday and into the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament.It was the 199th victory at Arizona State for Turner Thorne, who will try for No. 200 on Sunday when her team faces California (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 25 AP), a 63-51 winner over Oregon in the first quarterfinal Saturday."We have a lot to play for tomorrow," Westerberg said. "I don't think rankings matter or seedings matter. That's why you see that intensity."Briann January scored 18 points for Arizona State (27-3), which avenged a one-point loss to the Bruins in the semifinals of the conference tournament a year ago.Westerberg also pulled down eight rebounds and reserve Kirsten Thompson added 14 points and five rebounds. Thompson, who will have a tough matchup against Cal's Pac-10 Player of the Year, Devanei Hampton, had 10 points and four boards in the second half and made all five of her free throws in the Sun Devils' eighth straight victory. Arizona State shot 26-for-28 from the line.Noelle Quinn had 25 points and six assists, Chinyere Ibekwe added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Lindsey Pluimer scored 12 points for UCLA (14-18), which lost its final five Pac-10 games and six of seven. But the Bruins beat Washington State on Friday night to advance to Saturday's quarterfinal action."Noelle had to do everything, but to be honest she's been doing everything for 30 games," UCLA coach Kathy Olivier said. "In the first three minutes, I was thinking, 'Oh, gosh, it's going to be a long day.' But we kept our heads up."Quinn was held to 9-for-26 shooting and committed five of her team's 22 turnovers."I'll take that," Turner Thorne said.Westerberg, who became the first Arizona State player to earn all-conference honors three times, hit two free throws with 6:01 to play.After UCLA cut it to 40-35, Jill Noe hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 14:36 to play for Arizona State, but the Bruins didn't go away easily. They scrapped for every loose ball in the second half and matched the Sun Devils' intensity on both ends of the floor.Tierra Henderson's layin with 11:36 remaining pulled UCLA within 45-41.Arizona State overcame 23 turnovers, many of which occurred when the Sun Devils pushed the ball in transition. The Sun Devils, playing their signature swarming defense, beat UCLA for the third time this season after taking the first two meetings by a combined 51 points -- including a 92-52 home win Jan. 18."Whoa, whoa, whoa -- we're not talking about that," Olivier said when asked about the 40-point loss.The Sun Devils have the longest unbeaten run of any conference team and increased their school-record total for wins. The previous mark was 25, accomplished three other times.Arizona State had held opponents to 37.6 percent shooting during its previous seven games, and the Bruins shot 45 percent.The Sun Devils, who finished second to Stanford in the conference, are trying for their second Pac-10 tournament title after winning the inaugural event in 2002. Arizona State lost in the championship game to Stanford in 2005.UCLA began the game 6-for-16 and was outrebounded 15-6 over the opening 15 minutes, but created better chances late in the half to trail 30-27 at the break.
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