LOS ANGELES (AP) Kari Korver was brought back into UCLA’s blowout win in the NCAA Tournament late so she could try to tie a school 3-point record.
Instead, she dove for a loose ball and displayed the hustle she’s shown throughout her career. It was a nice finishing touch on her final game at Pauley Pavilion, and fans stood on their feet and applauded as she was subbed out.
Korver scored 21 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, and fourth-seed UCLA routed Texas A&M 75-43 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Monday night.
”It meant a lot,” Korver said. ”It’s been really cool to play here for five years and have the support of fans and my family.”
Monique Billings and Jordin Canada each added 12 points for the Bruins, who had the largest margin of victory in school history in a tournament game.
Star point guard Canada left the game in the third quarter with a cut on her forehead. Trainers stopped the bleeding, applied a bandage and she quickly returned to the game.
UCLA broke down the Aggies’ zone and went to work by getting good shots inside and kicking the ball back out for open outside shots.
”I just felt like as a team we wanted to share the ball. We didn’t get good shots, we got great shots,” Canada said. ”My teammates we’re knocking down shots and as you can see, Kari went 7 for 10 (from 3-point range) … We just wanted to share the ball. We took our time and were patient.”
UCLA made its first three 3-pointers to build a 9-2 lead and never looked back in a tuneup for its Sweet 16 matchup against No. 1 overall seed UConn.
The Bruins pushed the ball up the floor against a visibly tired Aggies team. On UCLA’s final possession of the first quarter, the Bruins got two offensive rebounds, which led to a Canada 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the quarter. UCLA was up 22-9 after one and led by 21 points at halftime.
The Bruins extended that lead to 31 points at 62-31 after three quarters. There would be no Texas A&M comeback bid this time. The Aggies rallied from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to get past Penn in the first round.
UCLA is making back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 for the first time in women’s program history.
UCLA extended its home win streak to 29 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Texas A&M lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year as well, so coach Gary Blair must figure out the missing pieces to getting his Aggies to the Sweet 16. Texas A&M loses just three seniors and has five freshmen and sophomores who will benefit from the experience.
UCLA did everything it needed to in establishing an inside and outside game and building a big lead early. Now the Bruins must deal with their difficult draw in the NCAA Tournament with a game against UCONN in the state of Connecticut.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
”We’re playing in the Sweet 16 but that has to be delineated. So many people go, oh my gosh, we’re playing UConn. We’re playing in the Sweet 16. Every week, all year long, we’ve said, what did last weekend teach us, what do we need to get better at and how do we have a growth mindset this week … to be our best going into whatever our next game is. I think it’s really important to keep that focus. What we do well to play to our strengths and what did we learn from this weekend so we play closest to our potential. The mental framework is the most important thing going into this next game. Obviously, UConn has our respect, but my team has my respect. I need to lead them the same way we have all year long. We’re going to play in the Sweet 16, we’re not just going to play UConn.” – UCLA coach Cori Close on playing Connecticut in the Sweet 16
SWEET 16 ALL-AROUND
Both the women and men’s UCLA teams have advanced to the Sweet 16. Star freshmen Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf and other players were in attendance for the women’s game.
Close said she scheduled the team’s dinner Sunday night around the men’s second-round game so they could watch it.
”It’s really fun,” Close said. ”I got texts from the wives of our men’s coaches and all four men’s coaches. Some of the guys are in the middle of final exams, they got back late last night, and they came to the game. It’s really fun to play in a really supportive environment. They’re rooting for us, and we’re rooting for them. It’s a compliment to both programs and the administration and to all of the people who have facilitated us.”