Jan. 25, 2004
Nikki Blue's driving layup with 1.7 seconds to play gave UCLA a 67-66 win over California in a game played before 2,169 fans in Pauley Pavilion on Nell and John Wooden Court. The victory improved UCLA's record to 9-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference. Blue led three Bruins in double figure points with 19. Kiki Williams had a career-high 24 points for the Golden Bears, who are now 9-9 overall and 2-7 in Pac-10 play.
"We were a little more rested emotionally and physically for tonight's game," said Cal head coach Caren Horstmeyer. "We just had to get through the USC game and then be able to move on. My concerns if anything are losing a game as we did today on a last second shot and making sure that our team stays together."
Blue's shot capped a UCLA second-half rally that saw the Bruins fight back from a 12-point deficit. UCLA trailed 43-31 with 15:58 to play in the contest. A full court press, which led to 14 second-half Cal turnovers, helped the Bruins rally to tie the game at 50 on a Noelle Quinn basket with 10:42 to go. UCLA went on to lead by four points, 58-54 with 4:30 remaining, only to see California come right back. The Golden Bears ran off 10 unanswered points to make it 64-58 at the 2:04 mark on a pair of Williams' free throws. UCLA's Gennifer Arranaga made one of two free throws with 1:50 to play to cut the Cal lead to five.
The Bruins' pressure defense then led to two straight baskets by Blue and Quinn. Blue scored after a travelling call against Cal with 1:19 to go, and Quinn's basket, at the 1:08 mark, came after a Lisa Willis steal to cut the lead to 64-63.
The Golden Bears' Kristin Iwanaga hit a pair of free throws with 52 seconds remaining to extend Cal's lead to 66-63. Willis answered for UCLA with a 16-foot jump shot from the right wing to slice the lead back to one point with 43 seconds on the clock. After inbounding the ball, Cal was forced to call its last timeout with 39 seconds remaining to avoid a turnover in the backcourt. The visitors then worked for a shot by Williams, who misfired from the top of the key with 12 seconds on the clock. The rebound went out of bounds under the Cal basket to the Bruins with 10.5 seconds remaining.
UCLA inbounded the ball to Arranaga, who passed to Blue, who then dribbled three-quarters of the way up the right side of the court for her game-winning shot with 1.7 seconds on the clock. Cal could not get a shot off before the clock expired.
"Coach said to take it to the basket," said Blue of her game-winning shot. "Earlier this season, I pulled up for a shot in a loss at St. Mary's (a one-point loss) and that did not go so well."
Quinn backed up Blue with 18 points, five assists, one blocked shot and six steals. Willis finished with 16 points and five steals.
"We wanted to clear it out for Nikki for the final shot," said UCLA coach Kathy Olivier. "Cal double teamed her on the inbounds pass, so it went to Gen (Arranaga). She recognized the double team on Nikki and did not panic. She got the ball to Nikki. It was big that she took it all the way to the basket and did not pull up. When she went by, I saw about 6.4 seconds on the clock, so I knew she had time."
The Bears led 38-29 at the half behind 13 points from Williams. Cal trailed 9-5 before going on a 15-2 run and led by as many as 12 points in the opening half with 1:45 until halftime.
This was Cal's second game since teammate Alisa Lewis died last Monday.