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UCLA finds gold at end of Hawaii's rainbow

Playing at home in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament, the UCLA Bruins took care of business by protecting home court. The first half Hawaii competed hard and picked up multiple fouls on the Bruins' starters, yet they would fall short of getting the victory.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles, CA -- Los Angeles and Hawaii may be separated by an ocean, but the Hawaii fans made sure it was known they were in the building, with their band, cheerleaders and fans decked out in green.

Opening the game with multiple turnovers on both sides, Monique Billings would finally get the score rolling for the UCLA Bruins.

Lajahna Drummer had four quick points after being fouled by Ashleigh Karaitiana, her second personal foul only three minutes into the game. With a necessary Hawaii substitution, guard Marissa Wimbley hit a wide open three-pointer from the left side to put the Rainbows down by three.

To end the first quarter, Kelli Hayes made one of two free throws after being fouled under the hoop by freshman Olivia Crawford, making it a five-point game, 20-15 Bruins.

Fouls were adding up quickly at the start of the second quarter after Destiny King was subbed out for receiving her second personal foul on guard Kari Korver.

Then, Nirra Fields picked up her second personal foul with 8:21 left and taken out.

The Bruins would capitalize on the substitutions made.

First, Jordin Canada would find Billings under the hoop on back-to-back possessions making it 26-16 Bruins with 5:48 left in the half.

Fresh off a Rainbow timeout, the Bruins would go on fast 7-0 run. Korver had a clear jumper followed by a Kennedy Burke three-pointer. Canada would finish the run with a 15-foot jumper, pulling the lead to 33-16.

Crawford made two successful free throws, after being fouled by Canada with 1:25 left. Then, Wimbley hit another wide open three-pointer from the right side of the court to cut down the lead.

But Canada would retaliate with a three-pointer to end the half, 37-25 Bruins.

With a significantly slower start after the half, the Bruins only scored eight points in the first five minutes of the third, six of those points by Fields.

After the media timeout, the Rainbows trailed by 15 with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

Center Megan Huff went two for two from the free throw line after being fouled by Drummer, making that her third personal foul. Drummer would remain out the rest of the quarter. UCLA led 50-36 at the end of the third.

"They have always been key, and I honestly think that is our secret weapon. They come out and give us that spark," commented Fields on the Bruins' bench.

Finally, the fourth quarter arrived, and the Bruins were ready to stop this. Fields sunk a floater, followed by a three-pointer by Burke, pulling the lead to 17 points.

With 7:29 left, Drummer entered the game again for the Bruins.

Fields connected with Burke for a layup and was taken to the line by Harris. Harris was taken out after picking up her fourth personal foul and would remain out until the final two minutes.

With 3:58 remaining, Drummer picked up two quick fouls, causing her to foul out of the game; Drummer finished with nine points.

The very next possession, Burke was stripped of her defensive rebound by King, but came back with a massive block. Bruins went up 61-42 with 2:31 left in the game.

The Rainbows started launching shots at an attempt of closing the gap. However, it was not going to happen tonight.

The UCLA Bruins defeated the Hawaii Rainbows 66-50.

Fields finished the night with 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

"They are great athletes. They know how to move, how to jump and read the ball," commented Huff on the Bruins' overall performance. Huff finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bruins advance to the second round Monday at the Pauley Pavilion.