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Jordin Canada leads UCLA into Sweet 16

Mar 22, 2016 - 4:31 AM LOS ANGELES (AP) After struggling to contribute for three quarters, Jordin Canada's patience was rewarded.

Canada scored 17 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, and the third-seeded UCLA Bruins held on to beat No. 6 seed South Florida 72-67 in an NCAA Tournament second-round game Monday night.

''Obviously, I struggled in the first half shooting-wise,'' said Canada. ''But my coaches and my mental trainer Josh Williams told me to stay the course, that it's not about making shots. It's about what you can do on the defensive end or getting deflections or rebounds, and I tried to do that.

''And then I just let the game come to me in the fourth quarter.''

Canada missed 10 of her 11 shots in the opening three quarters before making six of her final seven in the last 10 minutes. She also made six free throws in the final 25 seconds,to carry the Bruins into the Sweet 16, where they will meet Texas.

''I just got into a rhythm,'' Canada said. ''That first free throw that I had off the `and-one' kind of set the tone and the rhythm for me on those free throws.''

Nirra Fields added 14 points and had the job of trying to defend Courtney Williams, but it may have been Kari Korver, who added 12 points, six rebounds and six assists who made the difference for the Bruins (26-8), who had led by 17 points in the second quarter, needed to make 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch.

''She was everywhere,'' UCLA Coach Cori Close said of Korver. ''That shows how hard she works every day. She's the slowest person on our team, and she was everywhere. That tells you how hard she works. There never is a possession that Kari doesn't give everything.''

It's the first time that the Bruins advanced to the regional semifinals since 1999, when they lost 88-62 to Louisiana Tech in the Elite Eight.

''This was just a huge next step for our program,'' said Close. ''I'm so proud of these guys and their stamina. I just thought it was a real `toughness' game . We say `Champions are made here, but from inside out. And thought it was their insides that carried us in this game.''

Williams scored 23 of her 29 points in the second half and Jenkins added 23 for South Florida (24-10), which lost in the second round for the third time in four years. Williams, who scored 31 of the Bulls' 45 points in a first-round win over Colorado State, went 3-for-15 in the first half, and made her first outside shot with 59 seconds left in the half.

''I just had to keep shooting. I had to forget that last shot,'' Williams said. ''When you have that negative energy and you get down on yourself it reflects on your teammates. So I just tried to tell myself to keep going.''

Ahead 65-62, Canada made two free throws for a five-point lead with 25 seconds left, only to see Williams hit a 3-pointer to pull South Florida within two.

Canada sank two free throws to put the Bruins up 69-65. After Alisia Jenkins made a jumper with 6 seconds to play, UCLA hit three free throws for the final margin.

After seeing a 40-24 halftime lead dwindle to 61-60, Fields hit a jumper and Canada followed with a driving layup for a 65-60 lead with 3:19 to play. Jenkins hit two free throws to pull South Florida within 65-62 with 1:03 to play.

''We got it down to one a couple of times and went empty,'' said South Florida Coach Jose Fernandez. ''They made those free throws down the stretch, and when we needed that defensive rebound we didn't get it.''


South Florida: The Bulls were facing a Top-15 team for the seventh time this season, having gone 0-6 against Connecticut (three games), Baylor, Mississippi State and Louisville. In beating No. 22 Colorado State in the first round, the Bulls snapped a 22-game losing streak against ranked opponents. This was the third try at reaching the Sweet 16 for South Florida's senior class of Williams, Shalethia Stringfield, Laura Marcos Canedo, Jenkins and Micah Kroll.

UCLA: The Bruins came into the game having won nine of 11, with both defeats coming against Oregon State.


South Florida: Season's Over.

UCLA: faces second-seeded Texas in Bridgeport, Connecticut on Saturday.

    UCLA: 72

    Mar 22 1:24 AM

    UCLA: 40
    3rd Quarter - 9:40

    Mar 21 10:18 PM
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    South Florida(6) vs. UCLA(3)Mar 21 9:31 AM