LOS ANGELES (AP) – After a disappointing performance down the stretch in losing to USC on Friday, Colorado women’s basketball coach Linda Lappe emphasized that her team needed to reach down and respond with more focus against UCLA.
And her team did just that as No. 12 Colorado overcame a second-half deficit and outmuscled UCLA in the final minutes to win 61-59 Sunday.
“I like how we responded today after a tough loss on Friday,” said Lappe. “We had good stretches and made great passes and got stops.
“We came out and moved the ball better and got everyone touches,” she added. “Our whole demeanor was better today.”
Jen Reese scored 15 points and Jasmine Sborov added 11 to lead Colorado (11-2, 1-1 Pac-12).
UCLA led 52-43 with 6:17 to play but couldn’t hold the lead. The Buffaloes outscored the Bruins 18-7 down the stretch to seal the win.
Thea Lemberger and Luiana Livulo each missed close shots for the Bruins in the final seconds and Colorado held on for the victory.
Reese made 5 of 12 shots for the Buffaloes and Sborov grabbed eight rebounds. Jamee Swam added nine points and nine rebounds for Colorado.
Reese’s basket with 1:54 to play gave Colorado a 55-54 lead. Brittany Wilson hit two free throws in the final 15 seconds to provide the margin of victory for the Buffaloes.
Nirra Fields led UCLA with 23 points and Atonye Nyingifa scored 13 points for the Bruins (7-8, 1-2). Lemberger added 10 points and Livulo had nine rebounds. It was Fields’ 6th time this season in which she has scored 20 or more points in a game.
Nyingifa also grabbed 11 rebounds as she recorded her 6th double-double of the season.
Colorado held a 42-38 advantage on the glass and is 11-0 this season when outrebounding its opponent.
“It’s a hard loss,” said UCLA coach Cori Close. “Credit Colorado, they controlled rebounds and made things difficult for us. They did what they do best – rebound, rebound, rebound.”
After Colorado took a 13-8 lead following a 3-pointer by Sborov, UCLA went on 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game. Colorado rallied over the final five minutes of the half to recapture the lead. The Buffaloes outscored the Bruins 17-5 down the stretch and held UCLA to one basket over the final six minutes of the half.
Reese led the Colorado scoring surge late in the first half as she tallied six straight points for the Buffaloes. Wilson’s basket just before the buzzer gave Colorado a 30-22 halftime lead.
Wilson finished with nine points for Colorado and needs 16 more to reach the 1,000 points in her career.
“This win will help reassure our confidence,” Wilson said. “We came out and battled hard the whole time.”
UCLA shot 35 percent for the game and made only 1 of 11 3-point attempts.
Sunday’s contest was UCLA’s fifth game this season against a Top-25 team. The Bruins are 1-4 in those games.
– By TOM CONNOLLY, Associated Press
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