QUEENS, N.Y. - Despite taking a second-half lead, the Saint Mary's women's basketball team lost to No. 14 UCLA 76-62 in the semifinals of the St. John's Chartwells Classic in Carnesecca Arena. The Gaels got a career-high 26 points from Danielle Mauldin and led the Bruins with nine minutes left in the game.
"Although we lost this afternoon, I am proud of our effort," said head coach Paul Thomas. "After we took the lead, UCLA captured the momentum off of our mistakes and we could not recover."
With the loss, Saint Mary's drops to 6-3, while UCLA improves to 6-1. The Gaels will now face Tennessee Tech in the Consolation final on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. (PT).
"We have a short turnaround to get up emotionally for our game vs. Tennessee Tech," said Thomas.
The Gaels did not out-rebound an opponent for the second time this season, although the final tally was 37 apiece. Mauldin just missed a sixth double-double of the year with nine rebounds to go along with 26 points. Jackie Nared added 17 points and six rebounds.
Saint Mary's also got a boost from the return of Kate Gaze who had not played since Thanksgiving weekend. Gaze played 17 minutes and scored seven points with three assists.
UCLA was led by Markel Walker with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Bruins had five players in double figures.
The Bruins led 35-28 at halftime as the Gaels chipped away in the second half. Mauldin scored in the lane with 10:06 left to tie the game, then added a free-throw on a shooting foul and made one free-throw to give the Gaels a 49-48 lead with 9:39 remaining.
UCLA followed with a 12-0 run to pull ahead 60-49, before Nared sank two free-throws to make it 60-51 with 4:48 remaining. SMC would pull no closer than eight points the rest of the way as the Bruins connected on free-throws down the stretch.
Saint Mary's is back in action on Sunday when it takes on Tennessee Tech at 9:00 a.m. (PT) on the St. John's campus.