Updated at: 03/09/2013 9:39 PM
By TIM BOOTH
(AP) SEATTLE - Markel Walker matched her season high with 23 points, Jasmine Dixon added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 14 UCLA advanced to its fourth Pac-12 tournament title game with a dominant 70-58 win over No. 5 California on Saturday night.
The Bruins will seek their second Pac-12 crown in Sunday night’s final against either No. 4 Stanford or No. 18 Colorado. UCLA won its only Pac-12 tournament title in 2006 when it pulled off upsets of Arizona State and Stanford to win the title. This will be the Bruins’ third appearance in the title game in the last four years.
UCLA was efficient offensively and California could not solve the Bruins’ zone defense. California (28-3) shot just 29 percent and saw its 16-game win streak come to an end.
Brittany Boyd led California with 18 points, but the Bears may have seen any hope of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament come to an end.
The loss also ruined a possible third showdown between the Bears and Bay Area rival Stanford in the conference title game. Instead it’ll be the Bruins playing for the title _ and deservedly so.
UCLA avenged two regular-season losses to Cal, including a 28-point loss at home in mid-February. UCLA has now won six straight since getting swept by the Bay Area schools. Walker made 10 of 13 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. Alyssia Brewer added 13 points and Atonye Nyingifa scored 11 for the Bruins.
UCLA played a nearly flawless first half, leading by as many as 22. The Bruins shot 55 percent, were perfect at the free throw line and had assists on 10 of their 15 field goals. Walker had 13 in the first half and came up with two of UCLA’s seven steals. The Bruins outscored Cal 22-6 in the paint in the first half and 42-22 for the game.
Layshia Clarendon added 14 for California, but made just 6 of 22 shots. She was part of a miserable shooting night for the Bears, especially the opening 20 minutes.
California’s horrific first half featured a stretch of nine straight missed shots during an 8-minute span without a field goal and zero ability to solve UCLA’s zone defense. The Bears missed all 11 3-point attempts, shot just 20 percent and were dominated on the boards.
Clarendon was the most frustrated. The Bears’ leading scorer got plenty of open looks, but missed eight of her final nine shots in the half. Eliza Pierre’s steal and layup with 2:41 left in the half finally snapped the Bears shooting skid and that basket finally got California into double figures.
It didn’t get much better in the second half. California missed its first 13 3-point attempts total before Brittany Boyd hit from deep with 14:45 remaining. By that point, the Bears still trailed by 21 and could only get as close in the second half as the final despite finally knocking down some perimeter shots.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)