CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Freshman Jordin Canada scored a career-high 31 points to lead the UCLA women’s basketball team past West Virginia, 62-60, to win the 2015 Women’s NIT Championship on Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center.Canada connected on 9 of 19 shots from the field and made 13 of 15 free throws, helping UCLA (19-18) win its sixth consecutive game. She was the Bruins’ only player to score in double figures, shattering her previous career high of 19 points, in addition to tallying four steals and two assists.
West Virginia’s Averee Fields led the Mountaineers with 17 points. WVU also received 14 points from Bria Holmes and 10 points from Linda Stepney.
The Bruins scored the first four points of the game and led 12-9 on a pair of free throws by Kelli Hayes at the 12:32 mark. But West Virginia would go on a 15-6 run to build their largest lead of six points (24-18) with 5:51 left in the first half. Jordin Canada would tie the game on a layup at 26-26 (1:18). Canada would get her third steal of the first half and race down the floor, beating the buzzer to give UCLA a 30-28 lead at the break. Her 14 points in the first half led all scorers.
UCLA took the lead for good with fewer than four minutes to play in the game. West Virginia’s Crystal Leary made one of two free throws with 4:31 to play, pushing the Mountaineers ahead, 53-50.
Kari Korver, who finished with five points and six rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer at the 4:19 mark to tie the contest 53-53.
After a missed jump shot by West Virginia, Canada made a layup with 3:45 remaining to put UCLA ahead by a 55-53 margin. An ensuing steal and layup by Kelli Hayes gave UCLA a 57-53 advantage with 3:19 remaining.
West Virginia trimmed its deficit to two points (57-55) with less than three minutes to play. UCLA added to its lead with 49 seconds to play, as Monique Billings made one of two free throws, putting the Bruins ahead, 58-55.
A layup by Stepney cut UCLA’s lead to 58-57 with 44 seconds to play, before Canada answered with a layup at the 25-second mark. Canada helped UCLA ice the victory with a steal and two ensuing free throws with 19 seconds remaining to put UCLA ahead, 61-57. The Bruins held on in the final moments for the 62-60 win.
Prior to Saturday's victory over West Virginia, UCLA had not won a postseason tournament since upsetting Stanford to win the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament. This marked the Bruins’ first-ever WNIT Tournament appearance and was the latest UCLA had ever played a basketball game.
Nicole Elmblad (Michigan)
Tyonna Williams (Temple)
Averee Fields (West Virginia)
Nirra Fields (UCLA)
Bria Holmes (West Virginia)
MVP-Jordin Canada (UCLA)