LAS VEGAS (AP) — With her team nearly blowing a 14-point lead in the third quarter, UCLA guard Japreece Dean challenged teammate Kennedy Burke to step up and she responded.
Dean scored 24 points and Burke added 15 and the two combined for the first eight points of the fourth quarter to help No. 25 UCLA beat 20th-ranked Arizona State 73-69 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday.
“They were checking something and (Burke) had missed a layup,” Dean said. “I looked at her and said are you going to buck up or what? We started arguing and she came out and responded. I like how she responded from the challenge.”
Burke smiled in the postgame press conference as Dean was recalling the conversation.
“It shows how much of an impact she has on all of us,” Burke said. “She’s a great leader.”
Coach Cori Close also challenged Dean early in the fourth quarter during one stoppage of play.
“I literally looked her in the eye and said we have Japreece Dean and they don’t,” Close said. “You have to lead us right now. She knew.”
The Bruins will get another season of Dean’s leadership as she was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA on Thursday. She played only two games at Texas Tech as a sophomore before transferring to UCLA.
“It means a lot,” Dean said of getting the extra year. “Thankful and blessed for that.”
The fourth-seeded Bruins (20-11) were up 14 points in the third quarter before the Sun Devils (20-10) rallied to within 57-56 at the end of the period.
Dean and Burke combined for the team’s first eight points of the fourth quarter to extend the advantage to 65-58 with 4:15 left. The lead ballooned to nine before Arizona State got within 69-66 with a minute left after Robbi Ryan hit a 3-pointer from the wing. After a UCLA timeout, Michaela Onyenwere, who finished with 20 points, drove to the basket to make it a five-point game with 45 seconds left. UCLA missed four straight free throws in the final 30 seconds, but the Sun Devils couldn’t capitalize.
“We are an incredibly resilient team,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We could beat anyone in the country and we know it. We do have that. We’re experienced and these players have played the best teams in the country and there’s nothing they haven’t seen.”
UCLA, which has won 11 of its past 13 games now since a two-point win over Arizona State on Jan. 25, will face either top-seed Oregon or Arizona in the semifinals on Saturday night.
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Kianna Ibis scored 14 points to lead Arizona State. The Sun Devils now await an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Bruins jumped out to a 20-8 lead on the Sun Devils in the first quarter and extended the advantage to 15 in the second period before Arizona State finally got going offensively and cut its deficit to 41-31 at the half. The Sun Devils then were down by 14 in the third quarter before cutting the deficit to one by the end of the period.
Dean is shooting nearly 92 percent from the foul line this season. She had made 73 of her previous 74 free throws before missing her third attempt after she was fouled shooting a 3-pointer in the third quarter.
Arizona State has six consecutive 20-win seasons, which is a school record.
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