This post was updated March 23 at 1:40 p.m.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Lindsey Corsaro got elbowed, stuffed some tissues in for her bloody nose and ran back onto the court.
“If you ask anyone in our program, ‘Who’s the toughest player on this team?’ they’re going to say Lindsey Corsaro,” said coach Cori Close.
The redshirt freshman guard finished with a career-high 18 points to help No. 6 seed UCLA women’s basketball (21-12, 12-6 Pac-12) defeat No. 11 seed Tennessee (19-13, 7-9 SEC) 89-77 to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
After blowing a 17-point first-quarter advantage, UCLA took the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter when Corsaro drained two 3s within a minute to spark a 14-6 Bruin run.
“The thing that was really funny too was she hit one of the 3s and both of those little things in her nose fell out,” Close said. “And then a huge smile comes across her face.”
The guard – who sat out her first two seasons with injuries – also added four rebounds and four assists in her first NCAA tournament contest.
“I was thinking last night before going to bed that, ‘Man, you grow up and you dream of playing in these games,’” Corsaro said. “I feel like I’ve been in college for so long, but it kind of hit me last night that I’ve never actually played in an NCAA tournament.”
The Bruins forced seven turnovers in the first quarter and led by as many as 17. Sophomore forward Lauryn Miller came off the bench, knocking down a jumper and an and-one layup to give UCLA a 28-14 lead going into the second period.
Senior guard Japreece Dean dished out four dimes in the first period, but started the game 0-of-7 from the field.
Dean, however, drained a 3 from the right wing with under a minute left in the period for her first points of the game, and went on to finish the game with 14 points, five assists and three rebounds.
“Despite having scoring not go her way, she was able to still lead us,” Close said.
UCLA and Tennessee traded runs in the second quarter with the Bruins taking a 44-32 lead heading into the break. The Bruins held the Lady Vols’ top scorer, guard Evina Westbrook, to 0-of-3 from the field in the first half.
In the third frame, UCLA went just 2-of-10 from the field and allowed an 11-0 Tennessee run, which cut its deficit to single digits for the first time since early in the first quarter.
Westbrook – who had just one point in the first half – buried a 3 and forced a turnover on the following possession, helping the Lady Vols to eventually tie the contest at 52-52 apiece with 1:12 to go in the third.
“We started worrying about the wrong things (in that quarter), and it drained our energy,” Close said. “We’ve got to be good about that and we’ve got to know what gives each other energy.”
Tennessee outscored UCLA 22-14 in the quarter and limited the Bruins to just 24 percent from the field, but a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Dean gave UCLA a 58-54 lead going into the final period.
Center Kasiyahna Kushkituah made a layup at the 8:49 mark in the fourth quarter to give Tennessee a 59-58 advantage – its first lead of the game.
“They are a long, athletic team, and I think that’s what gave us problems,” said forward Michaela Onyenwere. “They were finding ways to get in seams and we just got a little stagnant in the zone.”
But Onyenwere registered eight of her overall 22 points in the frame to help UCLA put the game away. Onyenwere also added 15 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season.
UCLA will face No. 3 seed Maryland (29-4, 15-3 Big-10) on Monday with the chance to advance to its fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance. The Terrapins defeated No. 14 seed Radford (26-7, 17-1 Big South) 73-51 on Saturday morning.