UCLA women can’t complete comeback in upset loss to Washington
Amber Melgoza scored 20 points, Rita Pleskevich added 15 and Washington upset No. 8 UCLA 74-68 on Sunday.
The Huskies (13-14, 5-11 Pac-12) started the day by celebrating GiGi Garcia on senior day with an emotional opening tip, then hammered and harassed the Bruins (22-4, 12-4) behind Melgoza’s gritty play.
Washington put a red mark on the Bruins postseason resume as they fight for a top seed in both the Pac-12 and the NCAA tournaments. Melgoza drove the lane again and again, getting battered by UCLA’s post players with little help from the referees until the end when she was knocked to the floor on a drive, and answered with two free throws. She added two more with 3.4 seconds left to seal the victory.
Melgoza also had five assists and five rebounds and overcame repeated frustration at the rough play against her under the basket. Her relentlessness opened up the 3-pointer for the Huskies and Pleskevich made them pay, going 3 for 3 from deep and 6 for 6 overall.
Washington built an 11-point lead in the first half, but UCLA whittled it down to 30-26 at halftime by holding the Huskies without a field goal for the final 5:28. But Washington extended the lead again with a 10-0 run early in the third quarter that included back-to-back Pleskevich 3s to make it 41-32.
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UCLA cut it to 67-63 on four straight free throws in the final 2 minutes, including two on a technical against Washington coach Jody Wynn.
Charisma Osborne had 23 for the Bruins, giving her 77 points in the last three games, and Japreece Dean added 14. The Huskies also got 12 points from Ali Bamberger.
In a touching moment, Garcia made the first appearance of her career at the beginning of Sunday’s game.
Garcia took the tip for Washington, then immediately checked out of the game. The forward has suffered five serious knee injuries in her career, tearing her ACL twice in high school and three times at Washington. She underwent four surgeries, but after her last injury decided not to pursue a fifth.
Coaches kept her appearance a secret until just before the game, when Garcia took off her sweats to reveal a uniform for the first time in her four-year career. She also made Washington’s final inbounds pass with 3 second left.
UCLA: Road losses are not unusual, especially this time of year when the weight of the schedule starts to hit. But this one could hurt the Bruins, who are playing for postseason seeding in both the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments.
Washington: There was a lot to smile about in a bittersweet way on Senior Day. The Huskies led most of the way, showing what they might have been had a few overtime games gone their way, and Garcia finally saw the floor.
UCLA: The Bruins return to Los Angeles for the final homestand of the season, beginning with Colorado on Friday.
Washington: The Huskies hit the road for two games to finish the season, starting with No. 11 Oregon State on Friday.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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