Gonzaga defeats UCLA to claim women’s NCAA Tournament East Region title

No. 1 Gonzaga stifled UCLA in a resounding NCAA Tournament East Region semifinal.

Sugar Rodgers scored 18 points and Saniya Chong had 16 as the Bulldogs rebounded from a 15-point, second-half deficit to pull away in the second half and beat No. 2 seed UCLA, 77-57, at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday night.

Leading by two at halftime, Gonzaga scored the first seven points of the second half on fastbreak baskets by Rodgers and Chong to seize control.

By the time it was done, No. 3 seed Gonzaga (31-2) shot 62 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers, compared to 19 by UCLA (26-5).

Rodgers became Gonzaga’s career scoring leader with 1,329 points, passing Kerron Johnson, who held the record for 25 years.

Rodgers finished 9 of 13 from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Chong shot 7 of 10 from the field and got her two technical fouls in the final 3:10. She also scored three points when she hit a free throw with 19 seconds left to give Gonzaga a 61-48 lead.

Napheesa Collier and Monique Billings each scored 12 points to lead UCLA. It was the lowest scoring game for the Bruins this season.

No. 4 seed UConn cruised past No. 5 seed Iowa, 87-46, at STAPLES Center, scoring the game’s first 10 points and never letting up.

Kia Nurse had 16 points and seven assists to lead the Huskies (29-2). UConn led 43-27 at halftime and stretched its advantage to 38 by scoring the first seven points of the second half.

Georgina King had 17 points and six rebounds to lead the Hawkeyes (17-12).

Up next: Gonzaga will play the UConn-Iowa winner at 3:30 p.m. PT on Sunday at STAPLES Center.

UCLA will play UConn at 8:30 p.m. PT on Sunday at STAPLES Center.

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