No. 8 UCLA loses to Alissa Pili and No. 9 Utah on last-second basket

UCLA forward Emily Bessoir controls the ball against Wyoming.
UCLA forward Emily Bessoir, shown here playing against Wyoming in the NCAA tournament last season, had 17 points and six rebounds in the Bruins’ loss to Utah on Sunday.
(Stephen Spillman / Associated Press)

Alissa Pili drove to the rim for a go-ahead layup with 0.8 seconds left to give No. 9 Utah a 71-69 win over No. 8 UCLA on Sunday.

Pili scored 23 points and had nine rebounds to lead Utah (18-2, 8-2 Pac-12), which rallied twice and closed the game on a 7-0 run. Issy Palmer tallied 14 points and five assists for the Utes, and Dasia Young chipped in 11 points.

Utah trailed for a total of 30 minutes before holding the Bruins scoreless over the final 68 seconds.


“It’s kind of like we woke up and started playing with the intensity needed to beat UCLA,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “Everything was hard. It was like we kind of had square wheels.”

Kindyll Wetta scored a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left, lifting No. 25 Colorado to its third consecutive victory over No. 8 UCLA.

Jan. 27, 2023

Emily Bessoir scored a career-high 17 points, which included five three-pointers, and had six rebounds to lead UCLA (17-5, 6-4). Kiki Rice added 11 points, and Londynn Jones and Gabriela Jaquez chipped in 10 points apiece.

The Bruins lost their second straight one-possession game, having lost to Colorado 73-70 in overtime on Friday.

“We still have some mental errors we got to take care of,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “You can’t give away possessions and win at the highest levels. I thought we gave less possessions today than we did at Colorado. But it still came down to a few of those mental possessions that I’m sure we would all like to have back.”

Utah trailed most of the first half, struggling with turnovers, but climbed ahead 48-43 early in the third quarter on a 12-4 run, capped by Pili’s back-to-back baskets.

The Bruins countered with four unanswered baskets, with Bessoir and Jones combining to make three three-pointers and fueling a 13-0 spurt that gave UCLA a 56-48 lead late in the third quarter.


“We know which shots we’re looking for and I think they found me in positions where I was ready to shoot and I credit my teammates for that,” Bessoir said.

In the fourth quarter, the Bruins went cold, shooting just three of 13 from the field.

Utah rallied again, and Pili buried a three-pointer to tie it at 69 with 40.3 seconds left.

“We just came out just playing to win,” Pili said. “We were kind of up and down like on a roller coaster in the first half and I think we were a lot more consistent in the second half with just moving the ball and finding the right play. Our defense definitely picked up too.”

The Bruins countered Utah’s dominance in the paint by relentlessly attacking from the perimeter, which paid off until the final minutes. UCLA shot nine for 20 from three-point range.

Up next for UCLA: Hosts Arizona on Friday.