UCLA Coach Cori Close's first season with the Bruins came to an end… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)
UCLA's season in transition ended Wednesday in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Conference women's basketball tournament at the Galen Center.
The fifth-seeded Bruins blew a double-digit lead and lost, 61-57, to 12th-seeded Arizona.
UCLA finished with a 14-16 record in Coach Cori Close's first season. Close replaced Nikki Caldwell, who left to take over Louisiana State's program.
Arizona improved to 15-16 and advanced to Thursday's quarterfinals, where the Wildcats will meet fourth-seeded Arizona State.
Against UCLA, the Wildcats trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before using an aggressive defense to mount a comeback.
Arizona still trailed for almost all of the second half, until guard Candice Warthen scored on a driving layup with 20.2 seconds left, giving the Wildcats a 59-57 lead.
Warthen finished with 17 points. Davellyn Whyte led Arizona with 18 points.
Forward Markel Walker scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but also had 10 turnovers for UCLA. Walker's production saved the Bruins for a long time, but she missed a layup with three seconds left that would have tied the score.
UCLA was then forced to foul, and Shanita Arnold made two free throws that gave the Wildcats their final margin of victory.
Arizona Coach Niya Butts said her team has often mounted comebacks but hasn't always completed them because it didn't get defensive stops late in games. "[Wednesday], we were able to get those stops," Butts said.
Close and UCLA were left to contemplate what might have been. The team's job got tougher in September when senior forward Jasmine Dixon, an honorable mention All-America choice last season, sustained a season-ending ruptured Achilles' tendon during a workout.
"We'll always be looking back at the plays we could have, should have made," Close said, "but … they have overcome adversity, they have been resilient, and for that I will be forever grateful."
Washington 72, Oregon 56: Guard Jazmine Davis made seven of 10 three-point shots on the way to 23 points and center Regina Rogers added 21 as eighth-seeded Washington beat ninth-seeded Oregon. The Huskies (17-12) will play top-seeded Stanford (28-1) in a quarterfinal on Thursday.
Washington raced to a 41-22 lead when Oregon shot 27% in the first half.
Colorado 55, Utah 41: Guard Chucky Jeffery scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Brittany Wilson added 21 points to help 10th-seeded Colorado beat seventh-seeded Utah.
The Buffaloes (18-12) will play second-seeded California (22-8) in a quarterfinal Thursday.
Colorado led by as much as 19 and held a combined 22-0 advantage in bench- and fastbreak points, which proved to be crucial as neither team shot above 30%.
This was the Pac-12 tournament debut for both teams, which are each new to the league this season.
Washington State 65, Oregon State 56: The 11th-seeded Cougars won their first-ever game in this conference tournament, ending a 10-game losing streak by beating the sixth-seeded Beavers.
Washington State (12-19) will play third-seeded USC (18-11) in a quarterfinal Thursday. The Cougars had three players score in double figures, led by 19 points from guard Ali Gibson.
Oregon State (18-12) was led by Brandi Thomas, who had 17 points.