SPOKANE - UCLA women's basketball coach Nikki Caldwell likes to refer to a team's two key players as "Batman and Robin."
Caldwell probably felt like calling Courtney Vandersloot and Kayla Standish far less heroic names after Gonzaga’s dynamic duo led the 20th-ranked Bulldogs to an 89-75 victory over the eighth-ranked Bruins on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Vandersloot, the senior point guard out of Kentwood High School, piled up 29 points, 17 assists (tying a 24-year-old school record), seven rebounds and five steals.
“We knew what she could do,” UCLA point guard Darxia Morris said glumly. “Our problem was stopping it.”
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Standish, who scored a career-high 30 points on 15-for-20 shooting Saturday in a win over Iowa, scored another 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting against UCLA.
“She’s a very good player,” UCLA forward Jasmine Dixon said. “Great mid-range game.”
The Bulldogs (30-4) broke the year-old school record for victories to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. The Bulldogs have won 20 consecutive games.
Gonzaga, seeded 11th in the Spokane Region, plays the winner of tonight’s game between second-seeded Xavier (29-2) and seventh-seeded Louisville (21-12) on Saturday at the Spokane Arena.
Third-seeded UCLA finished 28-5, with three of the losses to Pacific-10 Conference rival Stanford, which is the No. 1 seed in the Spokane Regional.
The Bruins, one of the nation’s top defensive teams, led most of the first 20 minutes and went to the locker room with a 38-35 advantage.
UCLA’s ferocious full-court press gave Vandersloot problems early. She still found time to wow the sellout crowd of 5,804 and a national television audience with some dazzling passes.
After intermission, Vandersloot scored 21 points and had just two of her eight turnovers. Standish, a 6-foot-3 junior forward from Ellensburg, contributed 18 points and five of her team-high 10 rebounds in the second half.
Gonzaga’s 89 points and 55.8 field-goal shooting percentage were season worsts for the Bruins. Gonzaga started the day ranked first in NCAA Division I with 86.2 points per game and second with 49.8 percent shooting.
“A very, very good offensive team,” Caldwell said. “I thought Standish did a great job of really working the baseline area while Vandersloot worked the top of the floor.”
Vandersloot became the first NCAA Division I player of either gender with 2,000 career points and 1,000 assists in her career.
Vandersloot, the national leader in assists, needs five more to break the NCAA single-season record. She moved up from fourth to third in career assists.
“Seventeen assists is incredible,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said.
Like the Iowa game, Monday’s game was close throughout and filled with energy on the floor and in the stands. UCLA supporters were few in number.
“The crowd was great,” Morris said. “We knew it was coming.”
Standish, whose jump shot is a thing of beauty, followed a string of three consecutive UCLA 3-pointers with a trey of her own to snap a 58-58 tie and push Gonzaga ahead for good. Vandersloot, who sank 15 of 17 free throws, iced the game at the line.
Katelan Redmon, a Spokane native who transferred to Gonzaga from Washington, scored most of her 15 points on layups resulting from slick feeds by Vandersloot.
Morris led UCLA with 20 points. Dixon added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Rebekah Gardner had 14 points off the bench.