Bruins Outscore Wildcats on Senior Day; Begin Pac-10 Tourney Friday at 7:15 pm
March 6, 2010
The UCLA women's basketball team used a 20-point performance from senior guard Erica Tukiainen to help run past Arizona, 70-61, in a Pac-10 women's basketball game on Saturday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion. The Senior Day victory marked UCLA's 12th in its last 13 games, eighth in a row, and lifted its record to 22-7, 15-3 on the year. The 22 wins by Coach Nikki Caldwell's team are the most since the 1998-99 unit rang up 26. The 15 Pac-10 wins match the total for the most ever by a Bruin team (also 1998-99).
UCLA started slowly in the contest and did not take its first lead until late in the first half. After Arizona jumped out to a 29-21 lead, its largest in the game, at the 5:45 mark, the Bruins put it all together and outscored the Wildcats 16-4 to end the half. Tukiainen netted two three-point shots during the stretch which left the Bruins in charge at the break by a 37-33 margin.
A pair of baskets by sophomore forward Jasmine Dixon early in the second half handed the Bruins a 41-35 lead with 16:30 to play. Another Dixon basket at the 8:42 mark gave UCLA its first double-digit lead in the contest at 52-42. However, Arizona was not done and freshman guard Davellyn Whyte's basket with 3:46 remaining made it a 58-55 ballgame.
However, Arizona never got closer than the three-point margin. Tukiainen connected on six out-of-six free throw attempts in the final minute of play to help extinguish any hopes of a Wildcat rally. White finished with 17 points for Arizona which fell to 13-16 and 6-12 on the season. Reiko Thomas led the `Cats with 20 points.
Dixon, with 17 points, and freshman forward Markel Walker, who added 13, joined Tukiainen in double-figures for UCLA. Dixon hauled down nine rebounds to top the Bruins in that category. This was the final home game for Bruin seniors Tukiainen, Allison Taka and Moniquee Alexander.
The eight straight wins are the most by a Bruin team since the 1998-99 team won 10 in a row. The 15 conference wins by UCLA matches the total put together by the 1998-99 squad which earned a share of the Pac-10 title. The 22 wins is the fifth-most in school history (1980-81 - 29 wins, 1977-78 - 27, 1998-99 -26, 1978-79 - 24). The win gave UCLA an 8-1 record in the second-half of Pac-10 conference play, its best finish ever in league play down the stretch.
UCLA, the second-seeded team, will return to action next Friday night in the Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center. The Bruins will battle the winner of Thursday's matchup between the #7 and #10-seeded teams. Tip-off is slated for 7:15 p.m. on Friday.
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