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UCLA women are seeded No. 3 in Spokane Regional

Bruins (27-4) will play No. 14 Montana (18-14) on Saturday. Stanford (29-2) is seeded No. 1 in the regional, and two-time national defending champion Connecticut (32-1) is top-seeded overall.

March 14, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • Bruins forward Markel Walker drives the baseline against Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike in the second half of the Pac-10 tournament final at Staples Center on Saturday.
Bruins forward Markel Walker drives the baseline against Stanford forward… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire )

UCLA's women's basketball team was mildly disappointed to learn Monday that much of its March Madness experience could be spent in one town.

But the Bruins weren't complaining.

UCLA is seeded third in the Spokane Regional of the NCAA tournament and could play as many as four consecutive games in Spokane, Wash. The Bruins play Montana on Saturday night in a first-round game at McCarthey Athletic Center and wouldn't mind hunkering down in eastern Washington for an extended period.

"I think that will be good not to have to travel," senior guard Doreena Campbell said.

UCLA (27-4) was put in the same regional as Pacific 10 Conference champion Stanford (29-2), which is seeded No. 1 and bidding to make its fourth consecutive trip to the Final Four.

Two-time defending champion Connecticut was seeded No. 1 overall. Baylor and Tennessee are the other top-seeded teams in a tournament that concludes in Indianapolis.

Arizona State (20-11) was the only other Pac-10 representative among the 64 teams that either won their conference's automatic bid or earned an at-large berth. The Sun Devils, seeded seventh in the Dayton Regional, open against Temple.

Arizona (21-11) and USC (19-12) were passed over by the NCAA tournament selection committee and will play in the National Invitation Tournament.

USC will play host to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and Arizona will play at Utah State.

"It shows that we can't do things halfway," said USC Coach Michael Cooper, whose 2010 team also was left out of the tournament after finishing 19-12. "We've got to do it all the way. Like I said before, the magic number is going to have to be 20. … It's sad, but we'll use this as a springboard that will hopefully get us going next year."

UCLA had hoped that its record and strength of schedule would warrant a No. 2 seeding. The Bruins' only losses were to Louisiana State and Stanford, which beat them three times.

The selection committee awarded the No. 2 spot in Spokane to Xavier (28-2).

"Whatever their criteria, it must have been something that we didn't do," UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell said. "You can't dwell on it or change it. …You have to move forward and be ready to compete in Spokane and be ready to accept the challenges that are ahead of us.

"That's what March Madness is about."

If the Bruins defeat Montana (18-14), they could play a second-round game against hometown Gonzaga (28-4), which opens against Iowa (22-8).

UCLA gained tournament experience last season at Minneapolis when the Bruins, seeded eighth, defeated North Carolina State and lost to Nebraska.

The experience, Caldwell and players said, should serve the Bruins well.

"We've learned what it means not to be happy to just have your name called on Selection Monday," Caldwell said.

Montana earned its berth by winning the Big Sky Conference tournament.

The Grizzlies are led by sophomore forward Katie Baker, who averages 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Connecticut (32-1) is bidding for its third consecutive title and eighth overall. The Huskies, who won three titles in a row from 2002 to 2004, open against Hartford (17-15) at Storrs, Conn., in the Philadelphia Regional.

Stanford, which ended Connecticut's record 90-game winning streak in December, opens at home against Big West Conference champion UC Davis (24-8), which is making its first NCAA tournament appearance. In 1998, top-seeded Stanford was upset by 16th-seeded Harvard in a first-round game at Stanford.

Baylor (31-2), led by 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, plays a first-round game against Prairie View (21-11) at Waco, Texas, in the Dallas Regional, which also includes second-seeded Texas A&M.

Tennessee (31-2), under eight-time national champion Coach Pat Summitt, opens against Stetson (20-12) at Knoxville, Tenn., in the Dayton Regional.

Notre Dame (26-7), which lost to UCLA in November at South Bend, Ind., is the No. 2-seeded team in the bracket.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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