Los Angeles ?- Sophomore Malia O’Neal posted career highs of 12 points and 11 assists, and came up with a crucial steal at the end of the game to give Arizona a 66-63 win over the Bruins on Thursday night in Pauley Pavilion. The win improves Arizona to 10-18 overall and 4-12 in the Pac-10, while UCLA falls to 13-14 and 7-8 in the Pac-10.
“We were determined tonight,” head coach Joan Bonvicini said. “We made some mistakes early, but we played hard from beginning to end. We controlled the majority of the game and controlled the tempo. This is a great team win, one we can build on.”
O’Neal’s double-double led the way for Arizona, as she also posted a career-high five rebounds. Senior Joy Hollingsworth added 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, and junior Ashley Whisonant posted 15 points and five assists off the bench.
Senior Noelle Quinn led UCLA with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Arizona shot a season-high 50.0 percent from the field (26-52) in the game, and held UCLA to a 43.6 percent (24-55) shooting percentage. The Bruins out-rebounded Arizona 35-28.
Arizona started the game out hot, hitting three of its first four shots, including a 2-of-3 mark from three point range to take a 8-2 lead at the 17:54 mark. UA went up 15-11 on a three by Jessica Arnold at the 12:46 mark, as the Wildcats started off 6-of-10 from the field. UCLA took its first lead of the game, 17-15, at the 9:03 mark on a lay in by Chinyere Ibekwe.
Arizona scored six-straight points to go up 21-17 on a layup by O’Neal with 6:59 left in the first, and extended its lead to 27-21 on a lay in by Hollingsworth at the 5:17 mark. Arizona finished the half shooting 0-of-7 from the field but held on to lead 32-30 at the half. The Wildcats shot 41.7 percent (10-24) from the field in the first half, as UCLA shot 41.9 percent (13-31) from the field.
Hollingsworth hit a trey and a jumper to give Arizona a 37-32 lead at the 17:26 mark of the second half. UCLA retook the lead at 40-39 at the 13:57 mark on a jumper by Tierra Henderson. UCLA took a 50-45 lead at the 7:59 mark on a three by Shaina Zaidi, but the Wildcats responded with seven-straight points on a jumper by Arnold to go up 52-50 with 6:08 left in the game. A three by Arnold with 3:46 gave Arizona a 60-54 lead.
UCLA cut the Arizona lead to 60-59, but a lay in by Whisonant with 1:23 left put the Wildcats up 62-59. Rhaya Neabors put in a lay up with 41 seconds left to give the Wildcats a 64-59 advantage.
With Arizona leading 64-61 with 28.7 seconds left, Hollingsworth turned the ball over on a five-second inbound violation. Quinn then hit a jumper with 17.6 seconds left to cut the deficit to 64-63.
With 8.8 seconds, Whisonant missed the first free throw on a one-and-one, UCLA rebounded and pushed the ball up court, but O’Neal came up with a steal, and hit two free throws with 0.8 seconds left to ice the win for Arizona.
The Wildcats will next take on USC on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.