Dec. 4, 2011
LOS ANGELES - Junior Atonye Nyingifa had a career-best 28 points and tied a personal high with 14 rebounds, while four other Bruins were also in double figures in scoring, as UCLA turned a close game early into a rout late in an 84-43 victory at Loyola Marymount on Sunday at Gersten Pavilion.
The Bruins win their third straight to improve to 5-2 overall, while the Lions fall to 2-6.
Nyingifa made 10-of-12 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line, adding a career-high four blocks. Sophomore Thea Lemberger poured in a career-best 15 on 6-of-10 shooting with two three-pointers, while junior Mariah Williams was also 6-of-10 shooting, scoring a season-high 13 points to go with three steals. Senior Rebekah Gardner added 11 points, while freshman Moriah Faulk posted 11 points, six rebounds, four steals and a trio of three-pointers all in the second half. The Bruins, who scored a season best in points, shot 53.4% (31-58) from the field. UCLA had a season-high 13 steals and a season-low 11 turnovers.
The first half was a back and forth affair with 10 ties and six lead changes. Down 8-7, the Bruins scored eight of the next 11 over a three-minute stretch to take a 15-11 advantage with 12 minutes to go in the first half. Lemberger had a three-pointer, Rebekah Gardner made a layup and Nyingifa added three free throws during the 8-3 run. The Bruins still led by two at 21-19, but the Lions scored the next six to go up by a half-best four at 25-21 with six minutes remaining.
UCLA closed out the first half strong though, outscoring LMU 13-3 over the final six minutes to take a 34-28 lead into the locker room. A free throw by freshman Kacy Swain and a Nyingifa three-point play tied things at 25. The Lions made a trey to re-take the lead, but the Bruins scored the last nine of the half on a Nyingifa free throw, back-to-back layups from Williams and consecutive layups by Lemberger and Rebekah Gardner to post a six-point lead through the first 20 minutes. Nyingifa nearly had a double-double in the first half with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Rebekah Gardner and Lemberger posted eight points apiece. The Bruins shot 41.4% (12-29) from the field in the first half.
The Bruins used their momentum from the end of the first half to pull away in the second. After the teams split the first four points of the half, UCLA scored the next nine over a 4:30 stretch to open up a 15-point lead at 45-30. Nyingifa had six of the nine points, Williams added a layup and Rebekah Gardner hit one from the charity stripe. Two LMU free throws ended the run, but UCLA got a three from Faulk and a jumper by Nyingifa to extend its lead to 18. Following a Lion bucket, the Bruins had another 5-0 run on another trey by Faulk and a layup from Williams to bring their advantage to 21 at 55-34 with 11:34 left in the half.
The Bruins' lead never dipped below 19 for the rest of the game. At 56-37, UCLA scored 11 straight to get its lead up to 30. Nyingifa had five of the 11 points, while Faulk, Rebekah Gardner and Lemberger had two apiece. The Lions scored the next four, but another 10-0 UCLA run put the visitors up by 36 at 77-41. Back-to-back threes by Lemberger and Faulk, a jumper from Williams and the first-career basket for freshman walk-on Madeline Brooks accounted for the 10 points. UCLA went on to score the last five points of the contest to get its final lead up to 41 in the 84-43 victory. Nyingifa had 17 points and five boards in the second half, Williams posted nine points and Lemberger produced seven. The Bruins shot 65.5% (19-29) in the second half and made all four of their three-point attempts.
Alex Cowling led the Lions with 19 points, while Hazel Ramirez added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Bruins are off from game action next week for Fall quarter finals, and return to the court on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at LSU at 5 p.m. PT.