WSU women fall short against 14th-ranked UCLA

LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA is still struggling to put two consistent halves together, but this time the 14th-ranked Bruins were better in the second half.

Atonye Nyingifa scored 17 points and UCLA pulled away to start the second half, beating Washington State 78-52 on Friday night for its fifth straight victory.

"We had momentum and fed off each other's energy," she said.

Thea Lemberger added 13 points, and Nirra Fields scored all 10 of her points in the first half for the Bruins (12-2, 3-0 Pac-12). They improved to 47-7 in the all-time series, having won all 27 games played in Los Angeles.

"You can't give up 19 turnovers for 31 points and expect to win, especially on the road," Cougars head coach June Daugherty said.

Tia Presley scored 16 points to lead the Cougars (5-9, 1-2), who got 11 points from Lia Galdeira in losing for the fourth time in six games.

"We just struggled against the press break and we were forcing things," Presley said. "We let them get to us. They rushed us a little bit."

The Bruins stretched a four-point halftime lead into a 55-35 advantage to open the second half. Markel Walker scored six points, and Nyingifa and Lemberger had four points each in the 18-4 run that gave them the lead for good.

"Washington State was completely comfortable the first half. I'm not sure we had the urgency we needed to. We were just late on things," Bruins head coach Cori Close said. "In the second half we decided to start dictating. When you have 25 assist baskets and only 15 turnovers, that's what reflects the heart of the team. We haven't played nearly our best, but I know we will get better because we have the heart."

Walker finished with nine points, six rebounds and eight assists.

"The reason I have a lot of hope to get better is no one cares on this team who gets the credit," Close said. "Markel is very content to share the credit."

The Cougars never got closer than two points after Carly Noyes made a layup to score their first points of the final 20 minutes. Midway through the half, they cut their deficit 59-43 on a layup by Presley, who was in the middle of scoring seven in a row for her team.

But the Bruins picked up where they left off, going on a 17-6 run that increased their lead to 76-49.

"T (Nyingifa) did a phenomenal job putting pressure on the ball and our team was just feeding off our energy," Lemberger said. "The turnovers led to easy baskets for us. It really hurts a team when you're getting stop after stop."

UCLA's defense came up big, too. The Bruins held the Cougars to 35 percent shooting for the game, and just 24 percent in the second half.

The Bruins' bench outscored Washington State's reserves, 29-17. UCLA owned a 44-22 edge in the paint and had 25 assists, led by eight from Walker.

The Cougars came out strongly to start the game, shooting 42 percent in the first half while building their largest lead of six points. The game was tied five times and the lead changed hands that many times in the half.

"I thought we were in control," Daugherty said. "The team followed the game plan to a T. But we got in foul trouble early."