Nov. 25, 2011
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Senior Rebekah Gardner led the Bruins in scoring for the third straight game with 19, while junior Atonye Nyingifa added 10, but the 25th-ranked Bruins fell to West Virginia 63-54 on Friday night at the Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic.
The Bruins (2-2) will face Colgate in the tournament consolation game at 5 p.m. on Saturday at The Matadome. Dave Marcus and Tracy Murray will have the broadcast call at UCLABruins.com.
The Mountaineers (3-1) had a few chances to pull away from the Bruins, but their shooting percentage (40.4%) and turnovers (22) prevented them from doing it. A scoring drought that lasted 5:38 helped UCLA whittle a 10-point first-half deficit to four points.
UCLA was hampered in the first half by poor shooting as well. The Bruins shot just 29 percent from the floor in the opening frame, their worst half of the season. They increased that to 43 percent in the second half but it didn't make much of a difference. West Virginia dominated the boards, outrebounding UCLA by a 47-26 margin.
Natalie Burton's put-back of Christal Caldwell miss with 8:50 left in the game gave the Mountaineers their biggest lead (43-30) but it didn't last. The Bruins charged back, using a 16-5 run, to cut their deficit to two points. Gardner and Faulk each had six points during the run.
West Virginia answered with consecutive baskets to push the lead back to 53-46. A desperation 3-pointer by Taylor Palmer, with the shot clock expiring, gave the Mountaineers a 56-46 lead with 2:04 remaining.
The Bruins were hoping to use Friday's game to erase the memories of last week's 33-point loss to Baylor. Instead it left UCLA coach Cori Close questioning her team's toughness.
The Bruins are saddled with several injuries, and added another when freshman Kacy Swain bumped her head on the floor in the first half. Swain left the game and will not play in Saturday's consolation game.
Close refuses to use the injuries as an excuse.
"(Friday) was all about toughness and being mentally focused," she said. "We have plenty of talent if they do the things together. West Virginia was the aggressor. They had more focus down the stretch and we paid the price."