UCLA women eliminated from NCAA tournament

The UCLA women's basketball team started Tuesday night's second-round matchup with No. 1-seeded Nebraska well enough.

The No. 8-seeded Bruins came out the locker room on a mission, clearly surprising the Cornhuskers with a stingy, smothering defense. On the offensive end, ball movement paved the way for easy layups and a quick nine-point lead. A small contingent of UCLA fans made all the noise at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

But before their imaginations could soar and wonder about UCLA possibly reaching the Sweet 16, the Bruins' offense stopped cooperating. Nebraska soon had a double-digit lead after a UCLA scoreless streak of nearly seven minutes led to a 19-point turnaround.

UCLA regained hope after trimming the deficit to five by halftime, then to one early in the second half.

Yet back came Nebraska, this time with a 16-0 run that left the Bruins demoralized.

In retrospect, the 2009-10 season was a step in the right direction for second-year coach Nikki Caldwell's bunch. UCLA loses seniors Erica Tukiainen, Moniquee Alexander and Allison Taka, but the core group of Jasmine Dixon, Markel Walker, Doreena Campbell and Darxia Morris returns to a team that should challenge Stanford for the conference title.

Caldwell certainly hopes that this 83-70 loss to Nebraska serves as a lesson for her team when it returns to the tournament.