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NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Recap (UCLA-Louisiana Tech)

Posted: Tues March 23, 1999 at 3:55 a.m EST

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) ---- Louisiana Tech is heading back to the Final Four with a major obstacle already out of the way in its quest for a fourth National Championship.

Amanda Wilson scored 16 of her 23 points in the second half as the top-seeded Lady Techsters overcame a sluggish start and defeated UCLA, 88-62 in the West Region Final.

Louisiana Tech (30-2) advanced to the Final Four for the 10th time in its history and will meet Purdue, the top seed from the Midwest in one National Semifinal on Friday in San Jose. The Lady Techsters, who won titles in 1980-81 and 1987, lost to Tennessee in last year's National title game.

Tennessee, which was seeking its fourth straight title, was upset by third-seeded Duke in tonight's East Region Final. Duke will face Mideast Champion Georgia in the other National Semifinal game.

Maylana Martin scored 16 points to lead UCLA (26-8), which failed to reach the Final Four for the first time.

"I thought the experience of playing Louisiana Tech, who has been in the situation, was great for our team," UCLA coach Kathy Oliver said. "Tech has three seniors starting and it looks like it."

Playing with hobbled point guard Erica Gomez, the Bruins came out with an inspired effort and built a 28-18 advantage with 7:23 left in the first half after Micelle Greco hit a jumper.

Gomez was slowed by a sprained ankle suffered in Saturday's win over Colorado State in the regional semifinal. She played just 20 minutes tonight and finished with six points.

But the Lady Techsters turned up the defensive pressure and used a 17-4 burst to close the half to open a 35-32 advantage. Monica Maxwell, who finsished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, had six points in the surge.

Maxwell talked about the Lady Techsters being motivated by Tennessee losing.

"We knew before warmups," she said. "Our reaction was that there's going to be new champs, so why not us? It was motivating. It's wide open right now. It's anyone's championship to win."

Taking advantage of the shorthanded Bruins' backcourt, Louisiana Tech forced 13 of UCLA's 24 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.

With another Final Four appearance within sight, the Lady Techsters totally dominated the second half.

After Betty Lennox hit a jumper to push the Lady Techsters lead to 61-50 with 8:55 to play, they scored 19 of the next 21 points to open a 80-52 bulge with 3:40 remaining.

Louisiana Tech shot 63 percent (22-of-35) in the second half and 46 percent (38-of-82) for the game. The Bruins shot 38 percent (21-of-55).

Coming off a 27-point effort in the regional semifinal win over Louisiana State, Wilson connected on 11-of-15 shots from the floor en route to winning the award for the region's Most Outstanding Player.

"We've been focused from our first game until now," Wilson said. "We were determined not to let the season end. We fought and scrapped and played with a lot of heart and effort."

Wilson also grabbed 12 rebounds, and along with Maxwell dominating the inside, Louisiana Tech was able to manage a 49-30 rebounding edge.

"I told our team defense and rebounding would win the game," Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore said. "We did it with heart and determination. I really mean this, I don't think any Louisiana Tech team played with more heart and determination tnan tonight."

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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