UCLA holds off Washington, 58-46, advances to Pac-12 semis

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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.

BIG PICTURE

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.

UP NEXT

Washington: Season is likely over.

UCLA: Will face Arizona in Friday’s semifinal.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.