Sixth-seeded UCLA squandered a big lead but scrambled back to knock off Tennessee 89-77 on Saturday in the first round in the Albany Region of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.
The Bruins (21-12) advance to meet No. 3 seed and host Maryland on Monday night. Maryland downed Radford 73-51 earlier Saturday.
Michaela Onyenwere had 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Bruins, who lost a 16-point lead before prevailing late. The lead changed hands six times in the fourth quarter before Onyenwere put UCLA ahead for good with a putback with 3:14 left to make it 72-70, and trigger a 10-0 run.
It was just the second first-round loss Tennessee (19-13), which was seeded No. 11. The Volunteers are 30-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament first-round games.
The scrappy Volunteers took their first lead of the afternoon at 8:49 of the fourth quarter when Kasiyahna Kushkituah scored inside to make it 59-58. Kushkituah had 16 points to complement Rennia Davis’ 21-point, 10-rebound afternoon.
After trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half and again in the third quarter, Tennessee surged back to tie the game at 52-52 at 1:12 of the third period on a layup by Mimi Collins to complete a 20-4 run. UCLA’s Onyenwere answered with a short jumper at 53 seconds to put the Bruins back in front, and they would lead 58-54 heading to the fourth quarter.
Collins had 14 points for Tennessee. Kennedy Burke added 19 for UCLA, including four during the decisive, fourth quarter 10-0 run. Lindsey Corsaro had 18 for the Bruins on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4 of 6 behind the arc.
UCLA had jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the game’s first 2:41. Burke and Corsaro both had 3-pointers during the opening salvo, and the Bruins would lead by as much as 24-8 when Lauryn Miller scored off a turnover at 2:38. Shooting 50 percent in that first period, UCLA was up 28-14 after one, then led 44-32 at the half.
The Volunteers shot just 33.3 percent (10 of 30) and committed nine turnovers in the first half, but shot 57 percent (20 of 35) in rallying in the second half.
—Field Level Media