March 1, 2012
Pullman, WA --- UCLA (14-14, 9-8) dropped a 76-65 decision to Washington State (11-18, 5-12) in a Pac-12 Conference women's basketball game played on Friel Court in the Beasley Coliseum on Thursday night. The Bruins remained in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings despite the setback, after Oregon State (9-8) also lost tonight at Utah. Arizona State, which plays Arizona on Saturday, is the third team owning a 9-8 record in the battle to earn the final first round bye in the conference tournament.
Washington State scored the first 10 points of tonight's game and never trailed in the contest. The Cougars forced 27 Bruin turnovers, grabbed 18 offensive boards and netted 10 three-point baskets. UCLA was down by 16 points at the half and was able to creep to within 10 points three times late in the second half but never narrowed the margin to single digits. The last time was at 71-61 with 2:35 to play, but Washington State converted its free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
The Cougars led by as many as 17 points in the first half before settling for a 39-23 advantage at the break. The Bruins shot 48% from the field in that first half, but committed 16 first half turnovers and were only able to attempt 21 first half shots. WSU connected on 16 of its 39 first half shots, including seven made three-point shots. UCLA got as close as 34-23 on a basket by Markel Walker at the 2:44 mark, but the Cougars scored the last five points before the break.
Walker, a junior forward, led the Bruins with 18 points and nine rebounds. She has scored in double digits in the last 10 games and moved into 13th place on the all-time school rebounding list. Senior guard Rebekah Gardner moved into a tie for third on the all-time games played list tonight, matching Debbie Willie's (1978-81) total of 125. Gardner finished with 16 points. Thea Lemberger added 11 points, the tenth time in the last 11 games she has reached double digits.
UCLA will wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a game at the University of Washington (2 p.m.). The first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament begins March 7 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.