LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Bruins used veteran leadership Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion to hold on for a 79-72 victory over the Washington State Cougars. The win helped the Bruins improve to 11-12 (5-6 in Pac-12 play), while the Cougars fell to 12-10 (6-4) in defeat.
Senior Atonye Nyingifa scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for UCLA, while senior Thea Lemberger contributed 21 points and some clutch free throws to ensure the win. Junior Corinne Costa added her second consecutive (and career) double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Three Cougars were in double figures, led by sophomore Lia Galdeira's 15, including 12 in the second half. Senior Sage Romberg added 12 for Washington State, while junior Tia Presley scored 11.
The Bruins jumped out to an early lead behind Nyingifa, who scored the first six UCLA points. The Cougars responded, stayed within striking distance and pounced on the lead with a 9-2 run to take a 28-27 advantage with 4:38 remaining in the opening frame. During that run, however, Galdeira was benched with her third personal foul. UCLA responded with a late first-half push of its own to take a 37-35 halftime advantage.
The run continued into the second half, as the Bruins scored the first seven points of the half, capped by two free throws by sophomore Nirra Fields. Fields--who fouled out of Friday night's loss to Washington with only five points--responded with a 16-point performance and anchoring defense that held Washington State's three leading scorers to 12-for-39 shooting. The Cougars remained active in the Bruin passing lanes to open up shots for a rejuvenated Galdeira, who evened the score at 53 with a jumper (10:33). UCLA recovered with a 14-3 stretch to ensure they would not relinquish the lead. Nyingifa scored seven during that stretch, and fellow senior Lemberger was pivotal in maintaining composure and the lead after the Cougars trimmed its deficit from 11 to three over a 1:14 period.
UCLA committed a season-high 23 turnovers, but won the battle on the boards 47-35 and made 27-of-36 from the free throw line. Nyingifa and Fields each finished with three steals, while Galdeira had four for the Cougars, who drained eight three pointers as a team.
The Bruins will look to even its records Saturday when it travels across town to play rival USC. The game will tip-off at 3:00 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
WashingtonState at UCLA