UCLA's women's basketball tries tonight to travel further into the postseason than any Bruin team since Ann Meyers led UCLA to one national championship and two Final Fours in the late 1970s.
The Bruins (24-7) meet Kentucky (21-10) at Pauley Pavilion in a second-round NCAA tournament game, with the winner advancing to the West Regional semifinals March 20 at the Sports Arena.
Tonight, the Bruins' second consecutive 9 p.m. start means another late-nighter at the Keyport, N.J., home of Lorenzo and Nora Gomez, whose daughter, Erica, will doubtless play a key role tonight, just as she did Saturday in UCLA's 76-69 win over Wisconsin Green Bay.
Gomez, who had 15 points and eight assists in 38 minutes Saturday, said she called her father Sunday morning.
"The first thing he brought up was my four turnovers," she said.
"He said I played decent, but that I could do much better."
This one's a rematch. At the Rainbow Wahine Classic in November, UCLA beat Kentucky, 64-54, but the Bruins had their second-worst shooting game of the season, 34%.
Both sides said that Nov. 29 game won't mean much tonight.
"I'm not sure it's a plus for us," said UCLA center Maylana Martin Sunday, "it's harder to beat a team the second time than it is the first time."
Said Kentucky forward Laura Meadows: "Keeping our season alive is more important to us than anything that happened last November."
Both sides, Wildcat Coach Bernadette Mattox said, are better.
"UCLA is a powerful, explosive team," she said.
"And they're obviously better than when we saw them. Now they have more people involved in what they're doing, Martin isn't carrying them on her back. They really run well in the transition game, and we have to solve that."
Kentucky, 7-7 in the SEC, beat Nebraska, 98-92, in Saturday's first game at Pauley. They outscored the Huskers, 64-50, in the second half.
"I'm proud of what our players did in that second half," Mattox said.
"We kept our poise and we showed a lot of patience in beating their traps."
By contrast, UCLA Coach Kathy Olivier wants to see more second-half concentration tonight. Wisconsin Green Bay's leading scorer, Chari Nordgaard, had a 21-point second half after UCLA limited her to five in the first half.
"We lost sight of her in the second half . . . our concentration has to be better because Kentucky has two or three go-to players, not just one like Wisconsin Green Bay."
In the November matchup, UCLA had a 34-20 halftime lead on Kentucky but was outscored, 34-30, in the second half.
UCLA's defensive focus should be on Kentucky guard Erica Jackson, who had three three-pointers and 18 points Saturday. Forwards Meadows and LaTonya McDole combined for 30 points.
Despite their second-half problems Saturday, the Bruins have been perfect in the late stages of games, finishing 22-0 when ahead with five minutes left.
The Wildcats, on spring break, won't return home if they win tonight.
Contemplating that, Meadows put it this way: "Spending a whole week in L.A.--that's not a bad place to spend a week."