Los Angeles, CA -- The stakes and energy were high at the Pauley Pavilion as UCLA took on ASU in the final regular season game of the season, both teams looking for momentum going into the PAC 12 Tournament. In their last meeting, the #9 ranked Sun Devils defeated the #14 Bruins 65 to 61.
This time around, the Sun Devils were shaded at Pauley, as a determined Bruins' team won 74 to 61. After the game Coach Close stated that her team was mentally in the right place for this challenge, "This was the best week of preparation the whole year. They were just locked in."
Pressure was the name of the game, and both teams came out applying fierce defense. A scrappy Arizona State team refused to let up on the UCLA, drawing early fouls with deep pressure down low.
With the extreme defensive pressure, UCLA struggled to find the shot in the first yet, when they did find it, struggled to make it not getting on the board until 6:20 left in the first. Remaining strong, UCLA was able to hold the Sun Devils to only four points with six minutes left in the first.
An impressive spinning drive to the basket by star, Jordin Canada resulted in a three-point play and the Bruins' first lead of the game. The move of the night was a steal by Kelli Hayes, who shot it to Canada who was able to organize an extremely impressive sequence down low to Monique Billings for two.
Arizona State’s aggressive play got the best of them in the first, committing four fouls in the first seven minutes of the game. A visibly frustrated Sun Devil’s team they struggled to make the right shots and continued to foul in the final minute of the first as UCLA remained on top, 19 to 12.
A jumper from Quinn Dornstauder gave Arizona State the first points of the second, but UCLA responded with a great pass from Canada to Drummer down low for the easy layup.
The Sun Devils were able to set up some effective offensive plays, however struggled getting the shots to drop and the Bruins' power defense was right there to get the board. Again, Canada had a SportsCenter Top 10 crossover move, kicking it to Kelli Hayes who swished yet another three, giving UCLA their largest lead of the game by 10.
A three by Katie Hempen kept the Sun Devils in the game with 4:40 left in the half, but Canada responded with yet another steal and easy layup. Arizona State continued to struggle with turnovers, as Nirra Fields was able to steal the ball for an easy layup two possessions in a row. A buzzer-beating jumper by Arnecia Hawkins concluded the half with UCLA leading, 38 to 29.
The third period started off slow, both teams struggling to take effective shots. ASU continued to be uncharacteristically sloppy, and UCLA took advantage of it with their pure athleticism. The Sun Devils continued to commit turnovers and unnecessary fouls, keeping them down 51 to 36 with 2:31 remaining in the third.
Dorstauder continued to lead the Sun Devils in scoring and kicking off the 4th period with an easy jumper. The Bruins were able to consistently hold onto a substantial lead early in the fourth, even while making a few sloppy fouls.
Katie Hempen drew the foul and made all three free throws, to pull Arizona State within seven points with 6:30 left in the game. Dorstauder, refusing to submit, cut the lead to five with 3:30 remaining in the game, but Canada responded with a much-needed three-point play.