LAS VEGAS (AP) — Courtney Ramey had missed all four of her previous 3-point attempts when the ball returned to her at the most critical moment.
Ramey shook off a defender and then calmly drilled one from the top of the key with 16.7 seconds remaining to put Arizona in front. The eighth-ranked Wildcats held on from there, beating No. 2 UCLA 61-59 in the Pac-12 championship game.
“I kept telling myself, the next shot would go in,” Ramey said. “My job was to do a play.”
The Wildcats (28-6) advanced their case for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA (29-5) still hopes to clinch the No. 1 seed in the West and return to Las Vegas in two weeks for the regional.
It was the second year in a row that Arizona had beaten UCLA in the Pac-12 title game.
Arizona’s second-year coach Tommy Lloyd can’t lose in Las Vegas. He is 9-0 in the city, 8-0 at T-Mobile Arena and 6-0 in the Pac-12 Tournament.
“It was a takedown, a drag and I had a feeling it was going to be like that,” Lloyd said. “So much respect for the UCLA program. Obviously, they’re going through a lot of injuries right now, but they’re resilient and I knew it was going to be like that.”
Ramey’s 3-pointer put the Wildcats up 60-58. The decisive shot came after teammate Azuolas Tubelis missed a 3-pointer that was rebounded by Pelle Larsson, who passed the ball to Ramey.
UCLA guard Tyger Campbell was fouled with 6.8 seconds remaining and made the first free throw but missed the second. Tubelis made one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left, and UCLA’s Dylan Andrews missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to clinch the win for Arizona.
“Open shot to win the game,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “Tyger is punishing himself for missing a free throw, but that has nothing to do with some of our bad fouls and defensive lapses. Those are controllable. I’ll take Tyger on the line and put my career on the line with Tyger on the line.”
Tubelis, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, had 19 points and 14 rebounds for second-seeded Arizona. Oumar Ballo scored 13 points and Larsson had 11.
Amari Bailey led top-seeded UCLA with 19 points. Campbell scored 16 and Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bruins knew going in they wouldn’t have guard Jaylen Clark (lower leg) or Adem Bona (shoulder), and their troubles only increased when two of Bona’s post replacements got into foul trouble.
Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba each committed four fouls in the second half, forcing Cronin to commit at least one of them. Etienne fouled out with 9:35 remaining and Nwuba with 4:27 remaining, meaning the Bruins had to play a smaller lineup the rest of the game.
Arizona wasn’t completely healthy either. Point guard Kerr Kriisa has been playing with a rogue shoulder throughout the tournament.
An Arizona fan was yelling at Cronin’s father, Hep, after the game, according to UCLA radio host Josh Lewin. When a reporter told Cronin afterwards, he immediately walked out of the postgame press conference. Athletic director Martin Jarmond quickly followed.
Arizona: The Wildcats entered the game just 10 3-pointers behind their school record set in the 2010-11 season. But the long-range shots didn’t fall on them against the Bruins until the very end. Arizona went 6 for 20 from beyond the arc.
UCLA: The question is the health of Clark and Bona. Cronin won’t provide any information other than to say before the Pac-12 Tournament that Clark would not play. UCLA was easily the class of the Pac-12 this season, but not having those players was pretty remarkable, especially against Arizona.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Arizona: Will likely be the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
UCLA: Almost certainly a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Courtney Ramey lifts No. 8 Arizona over No. 2 UCLA for the Pac-12 title originally featured on NBCSports.com