UCLA women hold off Arizona, advance to Pac-12 tournament title game

UCLA women hold off Arizona, advance to Pac-12 tournament title game

Michaela Onyenwere scored 24 points, and No. 9 UCLA beat No. 11 Arizona 58-49 on Friday night to reach the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament.

The third-seeded Bruins (16-4) will play No. 4 Stanford, the top seed, for the conference title Sunday.

The Bruins overcame an off-shooting night in the semifinals and staved off a late rally by Arizona (16-5), which carved into a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to get within two with a little more than a minute left. UCLA closed it out with a 9-2 run over the final 1:04.

Natalie Chou added seven points, six rebounds and three steals for UCLA, which lost 68-65 at Arizona in their only meeting during the regular season.

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Pac-12 player of the year Aari McDonald led second-seeded Arizona with 24 points.

One night after the Bruins limited Washington to a season-low 46 points in the quarterfinals, they held Arizona to its lowest output — 18½ points below its season average of 67.5 per game. The Wildcats’ previous low was 59 in a nine-point win over California on Feb. 19.

Neither team came out with any sort of rhythm, as UCLA was a dismal three for 16 from the field in the first quarter, while Arizona shot just four for 10. The Bruins’ relentless pressure on the ball, led by Chou’s two steals, forced the Wildcats into six turnovers in the opening quarter.

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But as UCLA began to find a groove, Arizona’s struggles carried into the second quarter after the Wildcats took a 13-10 lead on Cate Reese’s short jumper. They fell into an 0-for-10 drought from the field over the final 9:13 of the first half. UCLA took advantage by shooting eight for 14 down the stretch and using a 15-4 run to take a 25-17 lead into the locker room.

Looking to give her team a spark, McDonald struggled while taking many of Arizona’s shots on offense. She went one for six in the second quarter and two for nine in the first half. Only one other Wildcats player had two attempts in the second period, and nobody else took more than three shots in the opening half.

McDonald finished eight for 24, while no other Arizona player had more than seven attempts.

Arizona senior forward Sam Thomas came in shooting 53% from three-point range over her last nine games. She took just two shots from deep and made one.

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UCLA’s Charisma Osborne had scored in double figures in 12 straight games and brought a 17.8 scoring average into Friday night. The sophomore guard finished one for 12 from the field and had seven points in 35 minutes.

No. 4 Stanford 79, Oregon State 45

Cameron Brink scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Stanford into the Pac-12 tournament title game with a victory over Oregon State.

Brink, selected to the conference’s All-Freshman team after averaging 9.8 points on 58.6% shooting and 6.8 rebounds per game this season, finished nine for 13 from the field while adding four blocks.

Kiana Williams had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for Stanford (24-2). Lexie Hull contributed 12 points and seven rebounds, and Hannah Jump added 10 points and five rebounds.

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Aleah Goodman scored 12 points and Taylor Jones pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Oregon State (11-7).

When the teams met Feb. 13, the Beavers challenged Stanford by getting within four midway through the third quarter before the Cardinal pulled away for an 83-58 victory. Stanford, which improved to 62-9 against Oregon State, wasn’t about to let it get that close Friday.

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