Feb. 19, 2012
Los Angeles, Calif. - UCLA made a late rally to close to within 10 points after trailing by as many as 23 in the second half, but the Bruins ran out of time in their comeback and lost 66-54 to USC at the Galen Center on Sunday afternoon. The loss broke a fourth-place tie in the conference standings and dropped UCLA (12-13, 7-7 in the Pac-12) into sixth place in the battle to earn a first-round bye into the Pac-12 Tournament. USC improves to 14-11, 8-6.
USC used a 15-4 second-half run to extend its 14-point halftime advantage to 22 points at 54-32 with 9:55 remaining, with Cassie Harberts scoring six during that stretch. UCLA was forced to play most of that run without the services of leading scorer Rebekah Gardner, who had to head to the locker room to be stitched up after cutting her lip in a collision under the basket. Gardner scored seven straight points shortly after her return and cut the gap to 56-42 on a basket with 6:02 to play. UCLA outscored USC 15-6 with Gardner back in action to pull within 12 points at 60-48 on a Mariah Williams bucket off of an inbounds play. The Bruins got as close as 10 points, 60-50, on a pair of Thea Lemberger free throws with 3:23 remaining but were unable to get any closer. USC sealed it with a jumper by Christina Marinacci with the shot clock winding down with 1:16 to play to go ahead 66-52.
After UCLA opened the scoring in the game on a basket by Gardner, USC ran off nine straight points to take a 9-2 lead at the 16:07 mark. Harberts scored the first seven in the Trojan run. Markel Walker broke the Bruin dry spell with a three-point shot from the top of the key. USC moved the margin up to 14-5 at the 13:24 mark before Walker answered with a second three-point shot to make it 14-8 at 10:56.
UCLA made just four of its first 17 shot attempts and had 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of action but was only down 17-12 with 7:52 to play as neither team shot the ball well (USC 5-25 fga to open the game). Back-to-back baskets by Harberts lifted USC to its first double-digit lead of the half, 25-15, with 4:07 remaining. The Trojans then scored nine of the game's next 12 points to extend the margin to 17 points at 35-18 with just over a minute on the clock. A Lemberger basket and free throw made it 35-21 at the half.
Gardner finished with a team-high 18 points. Walker had her ninth double-double of the year, with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Her 13 boards moved her into 16th place on the all-time rebound list. Harberts scored a game-high 26 points for USC.
The Bruins will return home next week to host the Arizona schools in the John Wooden Center in the final conference home stand of the year. UCLA meets Arizona State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and hosts Arizona in the annual "pink" game on Saturday at 2 p.m.