LOS ANGELES -- The California Golden Bears used a balanced scoring effort to combat a UCLA Bruin team that was paced by three scorers as they survived Friday evening at Pauley Pavilion, 77-72. The No. 18/19 Golden Bears won their fifth in a row to improve to 19-7 (11-4 in Pac-12 play), while the Bruins dropped to 12-15 (6-9).
Five Golden Bears scored in double figures, led by senior Afure Jemerigbe with 15. Junior Reshanda Gray added 13 points and 15 rebounds, while senior Gennifer Brandon contributed a career-high 14 with 11 rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Nirra Fields scored 30 for the Bruins, while seniors Atonye Nyingifa and Thea Lemberger scored 22 and 17, respectively.
UCLA jumped out to a 10-5 lead with 16:54 left in the first as Fields set the tone early with the team's first four points. The Bruins could not capitalize when Cal junior Brittany Boyd was forced to exit with her second foul at 13:18. Brandon led a scoring spree by the Golden Bears' second unit as they were responsible for nine straight points to even the score at 16 with 11:11 left. Brandon was active on both ends, as she and Gray held Bruin leading scorer Nyingifa scoreless until UCLA's leading scorer knocked down a jumper with 6:08 left to pull the Bruins back into a tie at 25. Nyingifa scored eight of the team's last 11 points of the half as the Bruins shot 56.7% and led 36-35.
The lead changed hands 11 times in the second half (19 total) as the Bruin big three engaged in a back-and-forth battle with another ranked opponent. The Golden Bears took a game-high seven-point lead at the 13:04 mark, 53-46. The Bruins answered with an 8-0 run of their own to regain the lead, capped by a three-pointer by Lemberger with 11:05 to go. Nyingifa scored 14 second-half points, but the Golden Bears shot 50% for the half and proved too strong. Lemberger was stripped on the Bruins' final possession as they looked to tie. Boyd knocked down two free throws to clinch the victory.
The Bruins made just one of their seven first-half free throw attempts. The Golden Bears’ bench finished with a 25-0 advantage behind Brandon and freshman Courtney Range, who added three from long distance and finished with 11 points.
UCLA will wrap up its regular season home slate Sunday when it hosts the No. 4/5 Stanford Cardinal. The game will tip-off at 4:06 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
#18/19 California at UCLA