UCLA Women's Hoops to Face Arizona in Pac-12 Semifinals
The Bruins topped the Huskies last night to advance.
Last night, the UCLA women’s basketball team defeated the Washington Huskies, 58-46, to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. Tonight, the three-seeded Bruins will face the two-seeded Arizona Wildcats. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 pm PT and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.
Last Time Out
UCLA’s quarterfinal game last night was a whole lot closer than most people expected. After all, the Bruins beat the Huskies by 34 points in Seattle. Even if you factor that there wasn’t much of a home court advantage this season without fans in the stands, you still wouldn’t expect there to be much difference between the last meeting between the teams and last night, but, as Chris Berman is fond of saying, that’s why they play the games.
The Bruins took an early 2-0 lead on a jumper by Michaela Onyenwere, but the Huskies scored the next four points. A free throw and a layup, both by Natalie Chou moved UCLA back ahead, 5-4. After Washington tied it, 5-5, Lauryn Miller broke the stalemate 12 seconds later with a layup. Miller’s layup began an 11-0 run by the Bruins and it looked like UCLA would run away with this one, too. Over the last four minutes of the first quarter, the Bruins stretched their lead another point to twelve points.
The second quarter began with a three-pointer from Emily Bessoir that gave UCLA their biggest lead of the game so far, 25-10. But, then, the Huskies began a run of their own. Thirteen points later, Washington only trailed by a bucket with 4:14 left in the half. Over the final four minutes, UCLA clung to a small lead and the teams headed to the locker rooms with the Bruins ahead, 30-25.
After the break, Washington spent the first two minutes of the half cutting UCLA’s lead back to two points and a three-pointer by Tameiya Sadler put the Huskies ahead for the first time since the beginning of the game. With six minutes to go, Washington still held onto a one-point lead, 37-36. Suddenly, the Bruin defense got stingy as UCLA went on a 6-0 run to retake the lead and go up by five with 3:41 to go. In the time left in the third, the only basket which was scored was a layup by Washington’s Alexis Whitfield with 11 seconds left. UCLA led 42-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the closest the Huskies would get would be three points down when the Bruins led 44-41 with 8:22. Again, the Bruin defense got stingy. UCLA only gave up five points in those final eight-plus minutes. At the same time, the Bruins managed to score 14 points and win the game 58-46 to advance to tonight’s game against Arizona.
The Arizona Wildcats have experienced a resurgence under Adia Barnes. After two tough seasons, Barnes has led the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons.
Arizona is led by senior Aari McDonald who averages 19.1 points per game. She also leads the team in assists with an average of 4.7 assists per game and she’s third on the team in rebounds with a average of 5.0 per game. The only other Wildcat averaging in double figures is junior forward Cate Reese. Reese averages 11.1 ppg and 5.3 rpg.
Trinity Baptiste and Sam Thomas are the other two seniors who start for Arizona. Baptiste averages 8.5 ppg while leading in rebounds with an average of 5.7 per game. Meanwhile, Thomas has averaged 7.8 ppg this season. Rounding out the starting five is junior guard Bendu Yeaney. Yeaney averages the fewest points of Arizona’s starters.
When these two teams met at McKale Center in December, the Wildcats eeked out a narrow victory, 68-65. So, tonight’s game is basically a toss-up. I think the Bruins will find a way to pull this out and win by four.
Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal #2
Teams: #3-seed UCLA Women’s Basketball (15-4) vs. #2-seed Arizona Wildcats (16-4)
When: 8:00 pm PT, Friday, March 5, 2021
Where: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV: Pac-12 Networks National, Los Angeles and Arizona with Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy
Live Stream: Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app
Audio: UCLA Live Audio with Dave Marcus
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
Official Game Preview