March 18, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA women's basketball team earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday and will face No. 14 seed Stetson (24-8, 14-4 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday, March 23 at 10:40 a.m. (PT) on ESPN2 in first-round action.
Selected to the Oklahoma City Region, the Bruins (25-7, 14-4 Pac-12) will play their first-round tournament game at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University.
UCLA finished third in the Pac-12 Conference behind Top 10 teams Stanford and California, which shared the regular season crown with a league mark of 17-1. The Bruins defeated No. 5 California, 70-58, in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and then lost a heartbreaker, 51-49, to No. 4 Stanford in the title game at Seattle's KeyArena on March 10.
This marks UCLA's 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and 19th overall (includes seven AIAW appearances) and is Head Coach Cori Close's first trip as a head coach (in her second season).
The No. 3 seed equals the best seed for UCLA in school history (the Bruins earned a three-seed in 1998-99 and again in 2010-11). Additionally, UCLA is 10-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and has never faced Stetson.
The winner of Saturday's contest will play the winner of No. 6-seed Oklahoma vs. No. 11-seed Central Michigan on Monday, March 25, in Columbus, Ohio. The Bruins defeated the Sooners earlier this season, 86-80, at then No. 11 Oklahoma.
While this is Coach Close's first trip to the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, she is no stranger come March to the NCAA Tournament as she went to 15 straight NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach at Florida State (2005-11) and UC Santa Barbara (1997-2004).
The Bruins went 6-6 this year against the 2013 NCAA Tournament field. UCLA defeated No. 2 seed California (neutral), No. 5 seed Colorado, at No. 6 seed Oklahoma, No. 9 seed Saint Joseph's, No. 9 seed Princeton and at No. 10 seed St. John's. All six of the Bruins' losses were to Top 2 seeds (three to No. 1 Stanford, two to No. 2 California and one to No. 1 Notre Dame).
UCLA last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in March 2011, also as a No. 3 seed, defeating No. 14 Montana in a first-round matchup before losing to No. 6 Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., in a second-round contest.