LAS VEGAS – Michaela Onyenwere scored six of her 12 points in the fourth quarter to help No. 9 UCLA hold off Washington for a 58-46 victory on Thursday night in a Pac-12 quarterfinal.
Charisma Osborne also had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins (15-4), while Lauryn Miller had nine points and Natalie Chou added seven.
UCLA staved off upset-minded Washington, which pulled within three early in the fourth but couldn’t gain enough momentum to seize control of the game.
“We are a much-improved shooting team than we were a year ago, but it is still not the preeminent part of our success,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “Our success is built on defense, rebounding and passion plays. And passion plays are nonstatistical hustle plays that we believe are the intangibles that lead us to high levels of play and help us survive bad shooting nights.”
Quay Miller had a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds, while Tameiya Sadler chipped in 12 for Washington (7-14).
The Huskies were dealt their biggest blow when coach Jody Wynn said leading scorer Haley Van Dyke couldn’t return to the game in the second half after hitting her head on the court. Van Dyke, who averages 12.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, had just two points in 17 minutes in the first half.
“Haley’s led us all year long,” Wynn said. “She’s led us from the moment she showed up on campus in the Fall. She’s one of our most experienced players. When she went down and wasn’t able to come back to the court with us and fight, it kind of rattled us for a little bit.”
Wynn said it also brought the team together and motivated the Huskies to rally within three, at 44-41 with 8:22 left in the game.
But under UCLA’s defensive pressure, the Huskies missed their next four shots and turned the ball over on another possession. Washington’s only points during a crucial five-minute stretch came from two free throws by Sadler.
Meanwhile, the Bruins hit five consecutive shots from the field, added a couple of free throws, and used a 12-2 run to open a 56-43 lead with 2:52 left and never looked back.
“Tonight we weren’t shooting our best and that’s what we kept talking about in the huddles, `okay, y’all, we know it’s a battle right now on the offensive end but let’s get stops,`” Onyenwere said. “That’s something we can do all the time. When we’re able to run like that it’s so fun to play with my teammates. I think that’s kind of where we kind of turned it around and kind of flipped that switch.”
The Bruins outscored Washington in the paint, 32-26, and also with second-chance points, 10-5.
It looked as if UCLA was going to put the game away early, as the Bruins held Washington scoreless for more than four minutes and without a field goal for nearly six, during a first-period stretch that allowed them to use an 11-0 run and build a 16-5 lead.
Emily Bessoir gave the Bruins a 15-point lead moments into the second quarter with a long 3-pointer, but Washington turned the tables and capitalized on seven turnovers by UCLA, which also shot just 25.0% from the field in the second quarter.
The Huskies used a 13-0 run over more than seven minutes to pull within two before UCLA’s Lindsey Corsaro made a 3 and moments later a layup, putting UCLA ahead by five for a halftime lead of 30-25.
Chou’s defense late in the third quarter helped thwart another Huskies rally, as she recorded three steals in less than two minutes, one of which allowed the Bruins to extend their lead to five, at 42-37.
Washington: Sadler finished her first Pac 12 Tournament impressively, as she tallied 30 points, 10 assists, and seven steals. The freshman guard was the Huskies’ most well-rounded player in 68-54 first-round upset of No. 6 seed Colorado, as she scored 18 points, dished a career-high eight assists, and nabbed three steals.
UCLA: The Bruins missed nine of their last 11 shots in the first half. They looked like the complete opposite of a team that just registered a pair of record-breaking shooting performances in its last two games, most recently against USC on Feb. 26, when they buried 16 3-pointers on 23 attempts (69.6%), the most 3-pointers in a single game in team history. Thursday, UCLA managed just 2 of 18 (11.1%) from beyond the arc.
Washington: Season is likely over.
UCLA: Will face Arizona in Friday’s semifinal.