The Bruins backed it up Thursday night with a 57-56 win over the Trojans in the Sports Arena--a victory that assures UCLA of at least a tie for second place in the Western Collegiate Athletic Assn. and should earn the Bruins a berth in the NCAA tournament.
UCLA, which began conference play with three losses but has won 10 of its last 11 WCAA games, closed the regular season with a 10-4 conference record (19-9 overall). USC dropped to 9-4 and 19-8 but can pull even with the Bruins with a win over sixth-place Stanford Sunday.
The NCAA will announce its tournament pairings Sunday, and it's likely that 20th-ranked UCLA and 11th-ranked USC will join conference champion Cal State Long Beach (No. 3) in the 32-team field. Three teams from the conference advanced to post-season play last season.
"There's no way they shouldn't take three teams from this conference," UCLA Coach Billie Moore said. "There aren't many teams in the West better than Long Beach, UCLA and USC. I told the kids that if we did this (win), we've done everything we can do."
When USC point guard Rhonda Windham's 18-foot jumper bounced off the rim at the buzzer, the Bruins also became the only team to defeat a Cheryl Miller-led Trojan team twice in the same season.
Though they came back from a 10-point deficit in the second half behind the hot shooting of guard Anne Dean, who finished with a team-high 21 points on 10 of 13 attempts, it was defense that won it for the Bruins.
Miller scored 26 points but had only three offensive rebounds. Holly Ford, who averages 11 points, was held scoreless on just six attempts. No other Trojan finished in double figures, and the team shot 37% (26 of 69).
Bruin center Annette Keur had 15 points and six rebounds, while Jackie Joyner, a forward, finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Both led the defensive effort for UCLA, which had a 57-52 advantage with two minutes left, then held off the Trojans.