UCLA had no time for a new fourth-quarter struggle. After losing a 19-point lead Wednesday against Arizona State in the first round, the Bruins set their game straight.
UCLA outplayed the Wildcats with a 73-59 victory Thursday over the No. 4 seed Arizona Wildcats at Michelob ULTRA Arena, advancing to the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
Nothing was decided when both teams reentered the locker rooms at halftime. UCLA, ahead by 2, 33-31, was 0-for-7 from 3-point range and committed 8 turnovers, offering 11 points to Arizona.
Any hopes from Arizona quickly blew up. UCLA extended its lead, and the Wildcats never came back.
“I think our mindset was really huge in this game,” redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir said. “We knew what we were going to do, and we all locked in.”
The Bruins quickly broke out of their poor shooting, going 5-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half and scoring 22 points in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth, Bessoir banked in 2 3-pointers, ending any comeback hopes for Arizona. Freshman guard Kiki Rice closed the game with multiple free throws.
If UCLA’s win had to be defined, it would be a team win. The Bruins showed team character and built their victory around high-scoring players.
“I just thought the teamwork and the selflessness was the key to this game,” UCLA Head Coach Cori Close said. “Today we were the tougher, more together team.”
Senior guard Camryn Brown achieved a career-high 9 points, along with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.
“I love putting my teammates in the best positions for them to succeed,” Brown said.
Bessoir added a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and senior guard Charisma Osborne added 18 points.
For Arizona, fifth-year guards Shaina Pellington and Jade Loville, as well as senior guard Lauren Fields had 10 points apiece. But it wasn’t enough for Arizona to come close to UCLA’s level.
“I’ve seen a team that can beat anybody in the country … but then I’ve seen the team that doesn’t fight and is not cohesive … and that’s today against UCLA,” Arizona Head Coach Adia Barnes said.
The next step for UCLA is the semifinal against No. 1 seed Stanford on Friday at 6 p.m. at Michelob Ultra Arena. The Bruins are set to take their revenge against the Cardinal after losing in last year’s Pac-12 tournament final.