Feb. 4, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Junior Markel Walker recorded UCLA's first triple-double in eight years with 14 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists, as the Bruins won their fourth in a row with a 73-52 victory over Washington State on Saturday at the John Wooden Center. Senior Rebekah Gardner led the team in scoring with 21 points.
The Bruins improve to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in Pac-12 play, while the Cougars fall to 10-13 and 4-7 in league action.
The triple-double for Walker is the first for a Bruin since Feb. 19, 2004 when Noelle Quinn posted 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at California. It was just the fifth triple-double in school history. Gardner produced 17 of her 21 points in the second half, making 8-of-13 from the field and pulling down eight rebounds. Sophomore Thea Lemberger was also in double figures in scoring with 14. Sophomore Corinne Costa added eight points (4-of-5 fg) and eight boards, while sophomore Rhema Gardner notched eight points and seven rebounds. The Bruins shot 51.8% (29-56) from the field for the contest.
After the teams exchanged the first four baskets, the Bruins went on a 13-4 run to take a 17-8 advantage midway through the first half. Five different players scored during the run, as Walker had five and Costa, Rebekah Gardner, Lemberger and freshman Kacy Swain recorded two apiece. With UCLA still leading by nine at 22-13 with 8:09 left, the Cougars went on a 13-2 run over the next 5:25 to take a 26-24 edge with 2:44 remaining in the first half.
A pair of free throws from Lemberger tied things at 26, but the Cougars countered with two from the line to re-take the lead with 1:52 to go. Nobody would score until the final possession, as Walker nailed a three from the top of the key as time expired to give the Bruins a 29-28 lead heading into the locker room. Walker had 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half, while Lemberger added seven points, as UCLA shot 46.2% (12-26) in the opening 20 minutes.
The Bruins scored the first eight points of the second half over a 3:37 span to build their lead back up to nine at 37-28. Rebekah Gardner and Costa each made baskets, while Gardner and Lemberger both drained a pair of free throws. The Cougars came back with a 10-4 run to get to within three at 41-38 with 13:19 remaining. With UCLA still up by three at 43-40, the home team went on a 25-4 run over the next eight minutes to break the game open.
Six in a row on a three-point play by Walker and a trey from Lemberger made it 49-40. After a Washington State three, the Bruins scored 15 unanswered over the next five minutes to go up 64-43 with 5:35 left. The Gardner sisters had six points apiece during the 15-0 run. UCLA's biggest lead of the game was 24 at 68-44 with 3:49 remaining, as it went on to win 73-52.
The only question remaining in the game was whether Walker would get one more assist to complete the triple-double. With 38 seconds left, Walker was in the paint and found a wide open Madeline Brooks on the left wing, as the freshman drained the jumper to give the junior the triple-double. Walker had eight of her 10 assists in the second half to go with four points and seven rebounds. Rebekah Gardner posted 17 points in the second half, Rhema Gardner had eight points and five rebounds, Lemberger recorded seven points and Costa grabbed six boards. The Bruins shot 56.7% (17-30) from the field in the final 20 minutes.
The Bruins open up a three-game road trip next weekend in the Bay Area. UCLA will take on California on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. and Stanford on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 12 p.m. Free audio will be available at UCLABruins.com. In addition, Sunday's UCLA-Stanford contest will be shown live on Fox Sports Net.