Los Angeles, CA -- Coming out of the gates hot for the UCLA Bruins was Nirra Fields, putting up a quick five points. Fields would sink a three-pointer before snagging a defensive rebound and going full court for a successful Bruins' layup.
"I tried to do what I needed to do to get our team the win," stated Fields on her overall game performance.
Jordin Canada thrived off of Fields' game time momentum, stripped the ball from Shalethia Stringfield and set up Monique Billings under the hoop for a basket. The Bruins went up 7-0 after not even two minutes of play.
After a thirty-second timeout to regroup, the Bulls drew up an excellent play for Kitija Laska to sink a three-pointer to finally put them on the board.
Billings put in significant work under the basket while being guarded by Alisia Jenkins and still made the tough layup, extending the lead to 17-13 at the end of the first.
Just seconds into the second quarter, Courtney Williams, who finished the first round against Colorado State with 31 points, would finally score after forcing Canada to turn over the ball.
However, it was the UCLA Bruins who brought the enthusiasm throughout this quarter.
With a precise pass from Kari Korver, Billings hit a jumper and then Fields with a layup. UCLA continued to go on runs to pull away from South Florida.
Korver must have heard the UCLA chant in the stands before knocking down a wide open three-pointer, pulling the Bruins to a 33-20 lead with 5:06 remaining in the quarter.
Right out of the media timeout, Fields would knock down a two-point step back, followed by another layup. Fields scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half. It was her who carried the team in the first which was much needed to get the lead.
Korver helped extend the Bruins' lead to 40-24 after hitting another three-pointer to end the half.
Not even two minutes into the third quarter, the Bulls' go on an explosive 7-0 run, trailing by nine. Jenkins scored off a jumper and three-pointer, while Laska contributed with a nice hook basket over Billings.
Canada had a breakaway layup, followed by Drummer with an enormous block over Laura Ferreira with 5:50 left in the quarter.
Off the inbound, Williams hit a three-pointer and then another one on the very next possession to trail 42-39. Anybody who has watched Williams knows she is a prolific scorer who can take over a game.
But Korver answered with a three from the left side with 4:34 left, Bruins up 45-39.
Williams went two for two on the line after being fouled by Fields, cutting the Bruins lead to three points with 2:01 left in the third quarter.
Billings went in for a floater, but instead picked up her fourth personal foul when a charge was called. Billings would remain on the bench the rest of the third. The Bulls' trailed 50-47 to end the third quarter after Jenkins hit a floater.
The fourth quarter was the ultimate battle, as both teams did not want their time in the NCAA Tournament to come to an end.
Hayes picked up her fourth personal foul and joined Billings on the bench after taking Williams to the line. Williams knocked down both free throws and a jumper to trail by one.
The Bruins' needed a change of pace, which is exactly what happened off the inbound play from Korver to Canada for a step back jumper. Then Burke hit a crucial steal and connected with Drummer under the hoop. The Bruins lead was now 58-53 with 6:07 in the fourth quarter.
After a Bulls' timeout, Billings returned, but Williams would go right around her for a reverse layup. Canada went to the line making it an old fashion three-point play to put the Bruins up by six with 5:36 on the clock. Laska would retaliate with a three from the left side to trail by three points with 4:50 left in the game.
Canada turned on the burners for another steal and took the ball to the hoop, pulling the lead to 65-60.
"I let the game come to me in the fourth quarter," commented Canada on her fourth quarter performance scoring 17 of her 19 points.
Drummer took Jenkins to the line, where she sank both free throws. The Bulls were trailing by three points with .55 seconds left in the second round. Jenkins finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Jenkins found Williams fresh off a South Florida timeout for a three-pointer with .20 seconds left to go down by two. South Florida would resort to fouling the final seconds before the time ran out in an attempt to extend the game. UCLA struggled at the line on the night, except for Canada, who knocked her free-throws down to ice the game for the Bruins.
Canada finished the night with 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals. Fields controlled the game in the first half for the Bruins, however, the second half was a different game where Canada took charge.
The UCLA Bruins defeated the South Florida Bulls in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 72-67. The Bruins advance to the Regionals this Saturday evening to square off with 2-seed Texas.