Dec. 21, 2008
Los Angeles, Calif. - UCLA registered its biggest win of the season thus far, defeating Kansas by a score of 67-64 in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins won their seventh-straight game and improved their record to 9-1 on the season. Kansas drops to 7-2.
With 27 seconds remaining in the contest and UCLA clinging to a one-point lead, Bruin sophomore forward Christina Nzekwe grabbed the rebound of a missed Jayhawk free throw attempt and was fouled. Nzekwe then hit both ends of the one-and-one opportunity to put the Bruins up, 67-64. Kansas misfired on two three-point shot attempts in the final seconds, and Nzekwe stole the ball after the second attempt to preserve the Bruin win.
Kansas led by as many as six points in the first half, 19-13 at the 10:30 mark, before the Bruins scored seven straight in a minute and a half to take the lead at 20-19. The Jayhawks reclaimed a three-point lead before junior guard Allison Taka banked in a long three-pointer to tie the score at 23-all. Sophomore guard Doreena Campbell hit a pair of free throws to move the Bruins ahead, 25-23. A Nina Earl steal and layup followed by a Campbell jumper gave UCLA its biggest lead, 35-28, with 1:52 left in the half. Kansas responded with a quick 7-0 run to tie, but Campbell ended the half with a layup to send the Bruins into the locker room at halftime with a 37-35 lead.
The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 6-2 run to regain the lead, 41-39, and the lead see-sawed several times before UCLA went on a 12-0 run over a three-minute stretch to claim a 55-46 advantage at the 10-minute mark. Kansas answered with a 10-2 scoring run of its own to pull to within one, 57-56, with 7:43 to play. Five straight Jayhawk turnovers opened the door for UCLA to take a four-point lead, 60-56, with 5:22 remaining. Kansas closed to within one, 63-62, with 1:42 left, but Nzekwe hit a layup to increase the lead to three with 1:23 on the clock.
The teams then traded missed shots, and with 36 seconds left in the contest, Kansas' Sade Morris sunk a pair of free throws to help KU creep to within one again at 65-64. Kansas committed its sixth team foul on the subsequent Bruin possession and then forced a UCLA turnover on the inbounds pass with 31 seconds to play. On the resulting KU inbounds play, UCLA's Darxia Morris fouled LaChelda Jacobs on a steal attempt. Jacobs missed the front end of the bonus free throw situation, the Jayhawks' first miss from the line after 12 straight made attempts, and Nzekwe grabbed the rebound. She was fouled with 27 seconds left and hit both free throws to give UCLA a 67-64 lead. Morris blocked McCray's three-point attempt with 17 seconds remaining, but the Bruins could not control the rebound. McCray then missed another three-pointer and got the offensive board with four seconds on the clock, but Nzekwe stole the ball and threw it down the court as time expired.
Nzekwe and Earl each finished with 12 points to top the Bruins. Six-foot-five KU center Krysten Boogaard scored a game-high 20 points to pace the Jayhawks.
UCLA's 9-1 record is the best start to a season since the 1980-81 Bruin squad won its first 12 games. It is the first time a Bruin team has won seven straight games since the 2002-03 season.
"It was a great effort by both teams," said UCLA head coach Nikki Caldwell. "Both teams fought very hard at the end, and Christina (Nzekwe) hit some big free throws. Our team realized they had an opportunity today to make a statement, and I think we did that. I'm very proud of them, and I'm excited for them because they've worked extremely hard."
UCLA takes a few days off now for the Holiday break before returning to action and completing its non-conference slate with a game at Texas Tech on Dec. 29. The Bruins will open the Pac-10 schedule in Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 2 against Oregon State.