Dec. 29, 2011
LOS ANGELES -
The California Golden Bears Pac-12 opening game came down to the final few possessions, but the UCLA Bruins managed to hold on and defend the home court, downing the Bears 60-55. Sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon had her fourth double double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bears pushed out to an early five-point lead, 14-9. After the Bruins closed the gap to a point, 14-13, sophomore guard Lindsay Sherbert got a steal and ran the length of the floor, converting a layup on the opposite end to give Cal a 16-13 lead with just over nine minutes left in the half.
The Bruins erased the lead on the very next possession, draining the first three of the game to tie the contest, 16-16. The basket was the start of a 9-0 UCLA run, with the Bruins hitting a long two-pointer from the left corner to take a 22-16 lead with just over six minutes left in the half.
A fastbreak layup from sophomore guard Mikayla Lyles followed by a transition basket by sophomore forward Gennifer Brandon 13 seconds later cut the lead to two, 22-20 with 3:27 left in the period. Brandon tied the game two minutes later on a low post feed from junior guard Layshia Clarendon.
Clarendon connected on a floater in the lane with two seconds left in the period to send the Bears into the locker room at the half with a 24-22 advantage. Cal's defense kept the Bruins from making a basket for the final 6:01 of the first half.
Sophomore guard Afure Jemerigbe started the second half by stealing the ball, setting up a Boyd layup to give Cal a 26-22 advantage.
The Bruins broke the drought 1:41 into the second half. The Bruins re-tied the game, 26-26 at the free throw line with 17:30 left in the game.
The Bears scored all 24 of their first half points in the paint as well as the first four points of the second half. The first point from outside the paint was a free throw by Brandon with 15:45 left in the game which gave Cal a 29-28 lead.
The Bruins, in the third lead change of the half, pushed back ahead of the Bears. They extended their lead to six, 42-36, with just over nine and a half left to play. The Bears first field goal outside of the paint was a three-pointer by Sherbert with 6:30 to play, that made it a one-point game, 42-41. The Bruins promptly hit two free throws to extend it back to three, 46-41. After a Cal miss, the Bruins raced back down the court and made a transition layup to push the game back to a five point UCLA advantage, 46-41 with 5:30 remaining.
The Bears tied the game, 46-46, with an and-one bucket by Brandon with four minutes left in the game.
After trading points back and forth, UCLA held a 51-48 lead going into the final two minutes. Clarendon was fouled on a three-point attempt with 1:08 left in the game. Clarendon hit two of three, putting the Bears down one, 51-50 going into the final minute.
The Bruins Thea Lemberger drained a three with 44 seconds left in the game, giving UCLA A 54-50 lead. Jemerigbe went up for a jumper with 28 seconds left in the game. Her shot was blocked and rebounded by the Lemberger who was immediately fouled. She made both of her free throws, to give UCLA a six-point lead.
Sherbert nailed a three-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game, making it a 56-53 deficit.
The Bears again fouled Lemberger after the inbounds. She again converted both free throws, putting the Bruins up five, 58-53. Brandon got a layup with 2.5 seconds remaining, making it 58-55. Once again, Lemberger was fouled and once again she converted both free throws as the Bruins held on for the 60-55 victory.
"This is not how we wanted to start Pac-12 season," said head coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "I appreciated our effort tonight to hang around when we weren't playing well and things weren't going our way to give ourselves a chance to win, but clearly this wasn't our best basketball game. We are disappointed in our inability to do some of the little things right on a night when we had a really hard time putting the ball in the basket."
Brandon led the Bears with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Clarendon, one of seven Southern California players on the court for the Bears, scored 12 points with three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Junior center Talia Caldwell, a Los Angeles native, had 10 rebounds, two points, and two steals.
The Bears outrebounded the Bruins, 55-35. The Bears pulled in 30 offensive rebounds, however they shot just 29.7 percent from the field.
"We just couldn't put the ball in the basket," said Gottlieb. "We had twenty more shots than the opponent and 30 offensive rebounds. You have got to win the game when you are taking that many more shots. They were able to do a better job from the free throw line and do a better job from the three point line. Their shooting percentage wasn't great (35.8 percent), but it was better than ours."
With the loss, the Bears fall to 9-4 on the season. UCLA improves to 6-6. The Bears will try for their first conference win of the season on Saturday, Dec. 31, when they take on the USC Trojans at 11 a.m.