Canada leads No. 9 UCLA past California 77-74
SEATTLE (AP) — Facing a surprisingly quick ouster, Jordin Canada and her UCLA teammates pulled it together down the stretch to pull out a victory.
Canada scored 27 points and No. 9 UCLA held California scoreless for more than two minutes late to escape with a 77-74 victory in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
Mikayla Cowling’s pull-up jumper put Cal up 69-68 with 2:40 remaining, but the Bruins responded with six consecutive points, going up 74-69 on two free throws by Canada with 38 seconds left. Kianna Smith hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Cal.
“I’m really proud of our poise,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We were down seven with 6:57 left to go in the game and then had nine out of 11 trips where we scored. I just thought we were led by our seniors, not only statistically, but in their poise and in their emotional leadership.”
UCLA (24-6) advanced to Saturday’s semifinals against sixth-ranked Oregon (28-4), which routed Colorado 84-47. Oregon defeated UCLA twice in conference play, 70-61 and 101-94 in overtime on Feb. 19.
Cowling had 16 points and Asha Thomas and Kristine Anigwe added 15 apiece for Cal (21-10), which lost to UCLA 82-46 and 60-52 during the regular season.
Kelli Hayes and Monique Billings each added 18 points for UCLA.
“When crunch time came, we put ourselves in a position to beat a very good UCLA team,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “This UCLA team is elite. Obviously, they have a shot to win this tournament.”
The Bears, who won six of their final seven regular-season games, opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run, taking a 62-55 lead on a rebound putback by CJ West. UCLA capitalized on two turnovers to answer with 10 consecutive points to go back in front 65-62.
UCLA led 34-29 and extended it to 42-31 on two free throws by Billings. Cal methodically cut into the lead, pulling even at 49-49 on two free throws by Anigwe.
Anigwe’s basket underneath in the closing seconds put Cal up 55-53 entering the final period.
UCLA made 24 of 34 free throws while Cal was 11 of 16. The Bears were called for 24 fouls, the Bruins 16 and Anigwe fouled out in the fourth quarter. Canada was 8 of 21 from the floor, but 11 of 12 from the foul line.
“I think it was really tough that we were in foul trouble all game,” Gottlieb said. “I think it was really tough that Kristine fouled out with 3 minutes to go, and I think it’s tough that they got 24 points from the free-throw line. So, it was tough.”
Cal also committed 14 turnovers, which UCLA converted into 21 points.
Hayes’ 18 points were a career high. She was 6 of 8 from the field, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
UCLA: The Bruins face No. 6 Oregon, the regular season conference champ and top seed, in the semifinals on Saturday.
California: The Bears, who finished fifth in the Pac-12, are hoping for an NCAA Tournament bid, which Gottlieb said they deserve.