March 7, 2012
LOS ANGELES - In a game that featured several long runs by both teams, it was Arizona's 11-0 run to end the contest that led the Wildcats to a 61-57 victory over UCLA in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday at Galen Center. Junior Markel Walker had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while senior Rebekah Gardner added 21 points.
The fifth-seeded Bruins conclude their season with a 14-16 record, while the 12th-seeded Wildcats improve to 15-16 and will face #4-seed Arizona State on Thursday.
Walker made 9-of-18 from the field and had three steals. Gardner added six rebounds, making 8-of-17 from the floor in her final game as a Bruin. Sophomore Corinne Costa came off the bench to post six points, sophomore Rhema Gardner grabbed eight rebounds and sophomore Thea Lemberger notched four steals. The Bruins shot 42.1% (24-57) from the floor for the contest.
The Bruins jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, making two of their first three shots on a layup by junior Mariah Williams and a jumper from Rhema Gardner, to go along with a Walker free throw. The UCLA defense held Arizona without a field goal for the first 4:30, but the Wildcats would score the next five points to equal things at five. The Bruins came back with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes on a three by Rebekah Gardner and five straight from Walker on a layup and a trey to make it 13-5 with 13 minutes left in the first half.
A Wildcat bucket made it a six-point game, but UCLA then went on fire from the field, making six straight shots during a 14-5 run over a 3:37 stretch to take a 27-12 advantage. Eight straight points by Rebekah Gardner on two free throws and three baskets made it 21-7. Arizona scored five of the next seven, but a layup by Williams and a jumper from Costa increased UCLA's advantage to 15 at 27-12 with 7:36 left in the first half.
Arizona got back into the ballgame thanks to an 11-0 run to cut its deficit to four at 27-23 with four minutes remaining in the first half. The Wildcats got as close as one at 31-30, but a Walker layup as time expired gave the Bruins a 33-30 edge going into the locker room. Rebekah Gardner had 15 points in the first half, while Walker added eight points, five assists and three steals. The Bruins shot 46.7% (14-30) from the field and forced 15 Arizona turnovers.
A Walker three-point play two minutes into the second half made it a six-point game, but Arizona came back with nine of the next 11 to take its first lead of the ballgame at 39-38 with 14:40 to go in regulation. UCLA responded with a 10-2 run over the next 3:07 to go ahead 48-41 with 11:33 remaining. Costa and Rebekah Gardner each had four points during the run, while Walker added a layup.
Arizona came back again, this time with a 7-0 run to tie things up at 48 midway through the half. Two buckets later, the score was tied at 50 when Walker scored seven in a row to put her team up 57-50 with 4:55 left. But again, the Wildcats responded, this time scoring the final 11 points of the contest to win it by four. Walker had 14 points and eight boards, playing all 20 minutes of the second half, while Rebekah Gardner added six points. The Bruins shot 37% (10-27) from the field in the final 20 minutes.