Nov. 30, 2011
LOS ANGELES - Junior Atonye Nyingifa had her fourth double-double of the year with 21 points (career high) and 11 rebounds, senior Rebekah Gardner added 20 points and eight rebounds and junior Mariah Williams posted a season-best 11 points, as the Bruins defeated San Diego State 78-71 on Wednesday at the John Wooden Center.
The Bruins improve to 4-2, while the Aztecs fall to 4-2.
Nyingifa made 8-of-17 from the field, while Gardner was 6-of-13 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line in a career-high 39 minutes. Williams played a personal-best 36 minutes and was 7-of-8 from the charity stripe, as the Bruins shot a season-best 70.6% (24-34) from the line. Sophomores Rhema Gardner and Thea Lemberger each added nine points, and freshman Moriah Faulk came off the bench with eight points and a pair of three-pointers. UCLA shot 43.1% (25-58) from the field for the contest.
The Aztecs scored the initial six points of the contest and eight of the first 10, but the Bruins responded with 22 unanswered points in a 6:33 stretch to take a 24-8 advantage. Nyingifa had eight points during the run, Williams added six and Faulk posted five. The 16-point lead at 24-8 was tied for the Bruins' largest of the game, as they also led 26-10.
"I give my assistants credit tonight," head coach Cori Close said. "They suggested some adjustments which helped to trigger that 22-0 run, and then another run in the second half. The players locked in when we made those adjustments and executed it."
UCLA maintained a 12- to 15-point advantage, but with the score 33-19, San Diego State scored six in a row and 12 of 14 to cut its deficit to four at 35-31. A three-point play by Rhema Gardner in the waning seconds of the half gave the Bruins a 38-31 lead heading into the locker room. Rebekah Gardner had 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half, while Nyingifa added 11 points and six boards. Williams produced six points, and Faulk and Rhema Gardner had five apiece, as the Bruins shot 41.7% (15-36) from the field.
San Diego State started out on fire to open the second half, going on a 13-3 run in the first 3:36 to take a 44-41 edge. The Aztecs still led 45-44, but the Bruins scored the next four and went on a 15-4 run to go ahead 59-49 midway through the half. Nyingifa had seven points during the 15-4 spurt, while Lemberger and Rebekah Gardner each had four, as the Bruins didn't trail for the rest of the game.
The largest second half lead for the Bruins was 14 at 72-58 and never dipped below seven until the final seconds of the contest, as UCLA completed a 78-71 victory. Nyingifa paced UCLA with 10 points and five rebounds in the second half, while Lemberger and Rebekah Gardner each had nine points. The Bruins shot 45.5% (10-22) from the field in the second half.
"We went with our best ball handlers on the floor down the stretch and did not substitute much," Close said. "Our mind-set has to be whatever it takes. They have trained for it and are ready for it."
The Bruins are back on the court on Sunday when they travel to Loyola Marymount. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. The game can be heard live on the radio on AM 1150, as well as online at UCLABruins.com.