5:00 PM ET, December 31, 2010
Rebekah Gardner comes off bench to rescue No. 9 UCLA from Washington
SEATTLE -- Crazy as it sounds, in the final minutes of a close game UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell was so unhappy with the Bruins lack of movement on offense, she started requiring a certain number of passes before a shot was taken.That's how much confidence Caldwell has in her Bruins (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP)."They started playing with a little more poise and a little more patience and I think that, to me, is a key to this team maturing," Caldwell said.Rebekah Gardner came off the bench to hit a trio of 3-pointers and lead UCLA with 15 points, and the Bruins rallied from an eight-point deficit early in the second half to hold off upset-minded Washington 60-48 on Friday.The Bruins (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10) opened Pac-10 play with an ugly victory that came with very little contribution from leading scorer Darxia Morris, who finished with just four points and sat much of the second half. Morris entered conference play averaging 12 points a game and didn't score until there was 6:40 remaining.But the Bruins depth was simply too much for the undermanned Huskies to overcome, trying to pull their first upset of a ranked opponent in nearly three seasons."The lack of depth we had on our bench showed," Washington coach Tia Jackson said. "They wore us down toward the end of the game."Mackenzie Argens led Washington (5-5, 0-1) with a season-high 18 points.UCLA started the week with its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 in 11 years, but then lost 55-52 at home to LSU in its final nonconference game before the start of Pac-10 play, snapping a 10-game win streak.The hangover from losing to the Tigers appeared to carry into Friday, although Caldwell noted there were none of the "lazy plays" that led to the loss against LSU.But UCLA was never able to shake the Huskies, who were coming off a 33-point home loss to Georgia Tech, until the final minutes. The Bruins even found themselves behind 36-28 early in the second half before relying on their trapping defense and a Washington team more than willing to make mistakes.Washington finished with a season-high 25 turnovers and UCLA gladly converted those into 29 points. The Bruins bench also outscored the Huskies reserves 27-5."When we know it's time to handle business we all come together and get the job done," said Gardner, who started every game until Friday.Washington tried taking control with a quick 7-2 spurt to start the second half and took its biggest lead on Kristi Kingma's long 3-pointer. But the Huskies went the next seven without a field goal and the Bruins a chance to rally. Markel Walker scored six of UCLA's next eight points and the deficit was down to 37-36 with 12 minutes left.Jasmine Dixon then followed with another basket and UCLA had its first lead since 26-25 late in the first half. Morris' jumper just before the shot clock expired gave UCLA a five-point lead and Gardner's 3-pointer with 4:57 left pushed the lead to six.Dixon and Walker were among a trio of Bruins to finish with nine points."When we do make more passes and play together we play better," Gardner said. "We were getting the ball inside and outside ... our offense just flows better and it helped us down the stretch."Argens made eight of 10 shots and scored 14 in the first half, but was one of three Huskies to foul out in the final five minutes. Kingma added 12 for the Huskies, who were trying for their first upset of a ranked team since beating then No. 9 California on March 2, 2008. Washington shot nearly 63 percent in the first half, but missed seven straight shots during their second-half scoring drought that gave UCLA an opportunity to rally.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||21-53 (.396)||16-37 (.432)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-7 (.429)||3-8 (.375)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-23 (.652)||13-19 (.684)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|