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UCLA women get away message in second-round loss to Gonzaga, 89-75

Third-seeded Bruins are no match for No. 11 Bulldogs and star Courtney Vandersloot on their home floor and are eliminated from NCAA tournament. It was UCLA's second consecutive second-round defeat.

March 21, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • Gonzaga guard Janelle Bekkering fends off a steal attempt by UCLA guard Rebekah Gardner during their NCAA tournament second-round game on Monday night at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
Gonzaga guard Janelle Bekkering fends off a steal attempt by UCLA guard… (James Snook / US Presswire )

Reporting from Spokane, Wash.

UCLA anticipated the crowd noise.

"We knew that was coming," Bruins guard Darxia Morris said.

The Bruins braced for Gonzaga spark plug Courtney Vandersloot.

"We knew what she could do," UCLA guard Doreena Campbell lamented.

In the end, the Bruins couldn't stop it: The noise, Vandersloot and especially not Gonzaga forward Kayla Standish.

All of it combined to push UCLA out of the NCAA women's basketball tournament Monday night, the third-seeded Bruins suffering an 89-75 second-round loss to 11th-seeded Gonzaga at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

A home-court capacity crowd of 6,000 roared throughout as Gonzaga came back from a three-point halftime deficit and sent UCLA (28-5) to its second second-round defeat in as many seasons.

Unlike last year, when Nebraska eliminated UCLA on a neutral court at Minneapolis, UCLA played valiantly against a Gonzaga team that won its 20th consecutive game on a historic night for Vandersloot. The 5-8 senior scored 29 points, had 17 assists and became the first player in NCAA Division I history to score 2,000 points and hand out 1,000 assists.

Many of Vandersloot's passes Monday night landed in the hands of Standish, who scored 30 points for the second consecutive game. Standish, with one of the quickest releases in women's basketball, made 11 of 14 shots and did not miss any of her seven free throws.

She scored 18 points in the second half, including 10 of Gonzaga's first 12 after the break.

"It seemed like every time she got the ball, she was open," UCLA forward Jasmine Dixon said.

Credit Vandersloot.

The three-time West Coast Conference player of the year was held scoreless for nearly the first 14 minutes of the game, but she set up teammates with several no-look passes that brought the already amped crowd to its feet.

UCLA led, 38-35, at the break, bemoaning afterward that it might have been a greater margin if Morris and forward Jasmine Dixon had not been sent to the bench after picking up their second fouls midway through the half.

"We cannot afford for our two best players to not be in the game for 40" minutes, UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell said.

With the crowd cheering her every move, Vandersloot came out after the break and scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists for Gonzaga (30-4), which will play the winner of Tuesday night's game between Xavier and Louisville.

"She's done that time and again," Caldwell said. "She'll pick and choose when it's her time to take the shot."

Standish put Gonzaga ahead, 42-41, with 17:37 remaining, starting a stretch of back-and-forth baskets between the teams.

"Kayla carried the weight for a lot of the time and it's tough to do that when she is being played against big, aggressive posts," Vandersloot said.

Vandersloot reached her milestone with a steal and a lay-up that put the Bulldogs ahead by five, but the Bruins tied the score 58-58 on a three-pointer by Morris with just under 11 minutes left.

Vandersloot took over from there. She set up Morris for basket, made a three-pointer, later added a free throw, made a jumper and then made a lay-up off of a steal that resulted in three-point play for a 70-62 lead. The Bruins never got closer than four points.

"When you're playing this time of year, big players make big plays," Caldwell said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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