No. 7 UCLA 63, California 50

Before UCLA’s seemingly inevitable showdown with Stanford in the

Pac-10 tournament title game, the Bruins had to handle the league’s

other Bay Area team.

Unfortunately for California, the mighty Bruins weren’t caught

looking ahead.

Atonye Nyingifa had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds,

Darxia Morris added 14 points, and No. 7 UCLA easily advanced to

the Pac-10 final with a 63-50 victory over the Golden Bears on


Doreena Campbell scored 12 points as the second-seeded Bruins

(27-3) controlled almost every minute of yet another lopsided

Pac-10 women’s basketball matchup. The Bruins executed their

offense crisply, and their trapping defense forced 19 turnovers,

showing no ill effects from the double-bye awarded to the league’s

top two teams.

”You can’t just look ahead,” Morris said. ”We knew Cal was a

good team, so we had to play well on offense and defense.”

With the formalities finished, UCLA will meet No. 2 Stanford in

Saturday’s final, wrapping up a conference season in which the

schools thoroughly dominated play. The Cardinal beat the Bruins

twice during the regular season, but UCLA won its other 16 league


”I’m excited for this team, excited that they’ve put themselves

in a position to play for a Pac-10 championship,” coach Nikki

Caldwell said. ”We’re not the biggest team in the conference, nor

in the country, so we want to use our athleticism, quickness and

versatility to make sure we’re disrupting people away from the

basket as much as we can.”

That’s exactly what the Bruins did against Cal, harassing the

rebuilding Golden Bears from the opening minutes while taking an

11-1 lead.

UCLA scored the game’s first eight points, and the Bruins’ lead

never dipped below double digits for the final 31 minutes, even

though star forward Jasmine Dixon managed just four points. The

Bruins also made just one 3-pointer and had 14 turnovers of their

own, yet never were threatened by the Bears.

Afure Jemerigbe scored 17 points for Cal (17-15), which beat

Washington and upset third-seeded Arizona State to reach the


”I think we struggled (with their press),” Cal coach Joanne

Boyle said. ”We got punched in the head a little bit, and then we

were just deflated and didn’t really respond. … We struggled to

make layups. Our confidence was shook. We’re not going to get

better shots than right-handed layups.”

The Bears went 3 for 19 from 3-point range, and leading scorer

DeNesha Stallworth managed just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting

along with eight rebounds. Second-leading scorer Layshia Clarendon

also struggled, going 0 for 6 – including four missed 3-point

attempts – while battling foul trouble.

”It was tough. I felt like we were not poised,” Jemerigbe

said. ”I think we hid behind a lot of UCLA players and forced

Layshia to handle the ball a lot.”

In Caldwell’s third season, UCLA is just two wins shy of the

school-record 29 victories by the 1980-81 team, with a high NCAA

seed awaiting next week. Another historic achievement is available

at Staples Center, however: The Bruins also are just one win away

from just the second Pac-10 tournament title in school history.

”Nikki has got them in a great place, really playing hard and

heading for … probably a long run in the NCAA tournament,” Boyle


But Stanford knocked the Bruins out of the Pac-10 tournament in

each of Caldwell’s first two seasons, including a 70-46 victory in

last season’s championship game at Staples. Stanford then easily

handled the Bruins twice this season, including a 14-point win last

month in Westwood without injured star forward Nnemkadi


”They have a very balanced offensive team to stretch you,”

Caldwell said of the Cardinal. ”We’re going to really have to

focus in on being stronger and being much tougher than we have

been. The possessions we take off, a team like Stanford is going to

exploit you.”

Although the Bears seem poised for a surge back to elite status

next season with a lineup dominated by promising freshmen and

sophomores, Boyle’s squad wasn’t ready to compete with UCLA or

Stanford this season. Cal lost six of its final regular-season

games, including a 24-point loss to Stanford in Berkeley, before

its tournament surge.

”I’m just disappointed with our effort,” Boyle said. ”Just

trying to get our team to compete, it kind of tells the story of

our season. Just to compete day in and day out for 40 minutes, I

think we need to learn how to become that team.”