It's the first time the Pac-12 has had four nationally ranked teams play in its conference women's basketball tournament. Many probably wonder what...
It’s the first time the Pac-12 has had four nationally ranked teams play in its conference women’s basketball tournament.
Many probably wonder what poll thought California worthy of a top-five position.
No. 14 UCLA was unstoppable. It led 35-14 at halftime and was doing chest-bumps to celebrate plays with 16 minutes remaining in the game, up 45-19.
The third-seeded Bruins eased to a 70-58 victory, shooting 49.2 percent from the field.
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“Even when they started to make a run, we had so many offensive weapons to stop it,” said senior Markel Walker, who led the barrage with a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds. “We were in sync so well.”
Cal (28-3), the conference co-champion, shot 20 percent from the field in the first half, hoisting air balls like the worst team in a rec league against UCLA’s zone defense. It never closed the deficit to single digits in the second half.
Instead, the Bruins (25-4) flew over the Golden Bears’ defense for buckets. Walker cut in front of Bears’ passes for steals. And, already leaders in the Pac-12 in assists, only one Bruins player didn’t have an assist in the game.
UCLA missed all three of its three-point attempts and outscored Cal 42-22 in the paint.
“The way we missed shots, the long rebounds let them get out in transition and that was just disastrous,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We couldn’t get in a rhythm where we could get stops.”
Sophomore point guard Brittany Boyd led Cal with 18 points. But rebounding menace Gennifer Brandon, a redshirt junior forward, was neutralized by UCLA. She finished with seven points and 12 boards, most when the game was decided.
UCLA’s Jasmine Dixon’s circus-reverse layin under the hoop with 3:29 remaining was the knockout punch. The deficit was 66-49, Cal looking deflated and confused on the bench.
It’s the Bears’ worst loss since losing at then-No. 4 Duke 77-63 Dec. 2.
Gottlieb and UCLA coach Cori Close felt the outcome should help the Pac-12’s tournament seeding instead of dropping Cal out of contention for a possible No. 2 seed. There were three other upsets among top-10 teams on Saturday.
But Saturday’s 12-point defeat was like spilled coffee on Cal’s sparkling résumé. Not a good look when being evaluated by the NCAA tournament committee for a top-tier slot.
UCLA advances to the championship game for the fourth time and will play Stanford again. It lost to Stanford twice in the title game, most recently in 2011, and beat the Cardinal 85-76 in overtime in 2006.
UCLA (25-6) — Nyingifa 5-15 2-2 12, Williams 2-7 0-1 4, Brewer 6-8 2-2 14, Dixon 6-11 3-3 15, Walker 10-13 3-4 23, Korver 1-4 0-0 2, Swain 0-1 0-0 0, Fields 0-2 0-0 0, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-61 10-12 70.
CALIFORNIA (28-3) — Brandon 3-9 1-2 7, Caldwell 2-5 6-8 10, Jemerigbe 0-6 0-0 0, Boyd 4-11 8-9 18, Clarendon 6-22 0-0 14, Pierre 2-4 0-2 5, Gray 1-2 2-3 4, Lyles 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-61 17-24 58.
Halftime — UCLA 35-14. Three-point goals — UCLA 0-3 (Korver 0-3), California 5-24 (Boyd 2-6, Clarendon 2-11, Pierre 1-3, Lyles 0-1, Jemerigbe 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — UCLA 41 (Dixon 12), California 36 (Brandon 12). Assists — UCLA 17 (Nyingifa 4), California 5 (Clarendon, Pierre 2). Total fouls — UCLA 15, California 13. A — NA.