LOS ANGELES (AP) — Senior day belonged to UCLA’s biggest stars.
Jordin Canada had 22 points and 14 assists, fellow senior Monique Billings had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the 10th-ranked Bruins beat Utah 78-71 in overtime on Saturday.
Canada posted her third straight double-double, helping UCLA (23-6, 14-4 Pac-12) to its second straight win. Billings was 10 for 16 from the field in her 45th career double-double.
“Obviously, Monique and Jordin, have all year long have delivered in the big moments,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “They’re just rock solid that way. Both made big plays down the stretch in very pressurized situations. I’m grateful for the elite level they’ve brought this program to, all three of them.”
Kelli Hayes, also a senior, made a 3-pointer in overtime to give UCLA a 70-67 lead.
The Bruins are expected to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Emily Potter scored 24 points for Utah (17-12, 8-10), which was coming off an overtime loss to Southern California on Thursday night. Tori Williams made three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points.
Utah’s Tilar Clark got her own rebound and made a layup with 1.4 seconds, tying it at 65 and sending the game to overtime. But Canada scored six of UCLA’s 13 points in the extra session, helping the Bruins pull away.
“They made shots. We didn’t,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “They made big plays and showed their talent with Canada and Billings. UCLA has a really good team. They’re really good. I’m really proud of our team.
“We’re way down in terms of our depth, but our kids fought. We lost in overtime at USC, too. I’m proud of our team in terms of our ability to fight. It just stinks to lose two heartbreakers.”
UCLA went to overtime for the third time in four games. UCLA lost at Oregon and Oregon State in overtime the previous weekend.
“I’m glad we were able to finish it off,” Billings said. “It’s going to make us tough going into the postseason, having moments like this, critical moments where you have to be focus and execute the game plan. Stop being nervous. Stop what the other team is good at. I think that’s really going to help us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get bigger leads toward the end of games.”
Canada had a key three-point play in the extra session. Before the game, Canada, who grew up in Los Angeles, was honored alongside both of her parents while watching video tributes of her career.
“It was a little bit emotional when you think about the past four years and how it’s flown by so quickly,” Canada said. “I remember last year I was standing in line with (Kari) Korver and Nicole (Kornet) going by and thinking, that’s going to be us next year. It was a little bit emotional to see the past four years and what we’ve done. At the same time, I was happy with what we’ve accomplished and done so far and we’ll be continuing to do.”
UCLA celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1968 AIAW National Championship team led by Ann Meyers Drysdale. She was in attendance and gave a speech.
Utah: Even with a loss, the Utes played well and can use the experience as a tuneup for the conference tournament next week.
UCLA: The Bruins did what they needed to do to win in order to lock up a top-four seed and automatic first-round bye for the Pac-12 Tournament.
Utah: Plays in Pac-12 Tournament next week in Seattle.
UCLA: Plays in Pac-12 Tournament next week in Seattle.
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