The Cal women's basketball team won't earn any style points for its 67-58 victory over visiting UCLA on Thursday night, but the Bears got just what they wanted.
Cal remains in sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 standings and created a two-game lead over third-place UCLA, despite committing a season-high 25 turnovers and nearly blowing a 14-point lead against the Bruins.
"UCLA does a really good job of making you play ugly a little bit," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "We did that for about 30 minutes with a pretty 10 minutes to start the second half. I love that our team was able to grind it out in the areas where we needed to."
The win was Cal's ninth in its last 10 games with its only loss a 74-71 setback in overtime at No. 4 Stanford.
The Bears (18-6, 9-3 Pac-12) led 27-26 at the half despite 11 turnovers and a 33.3 shooting percentage, then survived a late surge by UCLA (12-11, 7-5).
Cal went on a 6-0 run in the first 1:30 of the second half and took a 57-43 lead on a spectacular pass from freshman point guard Brittany Boyd to forward Reshanda Gray under the basket with 9:08 left.
Soon after, UCLA turned on the same full-court pressure that led it to recent comeback wins over Washington State and Colorado. It almost did the trick against Cal, too.
The Bears were held scoreless for more than six minutes while UCLA went on a 12-0 run, getting as close as 57-55 on Thea Lemberger's 3-pointer with three
Boyd finally ended the scoring drought on a layup with 2:43 left and Cal made seven of eight free throws in the final 1:10 to survive.
Making just her fourth career start, Gray had 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead Cal.
Boyd, a Berkeley High graduate, added 14 points and eight assists but also had a career-high 11 turnovers.
Nevertheless, UCLA coach Cori Close thought Boyd's improvement from the two teams' first Pac-12 meeting of the year — a 60-55 UCLA win — was a major factor in the game.
"I think her improvement over the season is the difference in why they're playing better," Close said. "To her credit, her growth as a point guard has been spectacular."
Gottlieb also spoke highly of her flashy freshman point guard, who tied a school record with 10 steals in the Bears' win over Arizona State last weekend.
"There are hundreds of reasons I love coaching Brittany Boyd," Gottlieb said. "She has a really high basketball IQ, she as talented as any player I've ever been around and she wants to learn... I have to live with some of the decisions and she'll learn when to make which pass, who she's passing to, where people like the ball, being able to adjust on the fly... It's all part of the process of just becoming a more mature point guard."
The win in front of a crowd of 1, 638 was Cal's first over the Bruins in their last eight meetings.
The Bruins, who have been decimated by injuries this year and have a rotation of seven players, were led by Markel Walker's 18 points. UCLA came into the game having won four straight.
On Saturday, Cal will try to avenge its worst loss of the year against USC. The Bears lost 74-54 in Los Angeles on Dec. 30, but Cal is 11-1 at Haas Pavilion this season.