Billings scores 27 to lead No. 9 UCLA to 78-65 win over Iowa

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — UCLA coach Cori Close was more delighted with Monique Billings’ performance at the foul line than the career high in points she had.

Billings scored 27 points, going 9 for 9 on free throws, to lead the ninth-ranked Bruins to a 78-65 win over Iowa on Thursday night at the Cancun Challenge.

“I’m so excited for Billings,” Close said. “I’m in the business to watch young women grow, and she shot under 50 percent as a freshman and got better as a sophomore. Even a few weeks ago, she had a tough night from the free throw line. I’m thrilled for her career high, but most proud of her growth from the free throw line.”

Billings also made nine of her 12 shots from the field for UCLA (4-1). But the star junior forward was particularly pleased with her perfect night at the foul line.

“I practiced it this week. Struggled last week,” Billings said. “I tried to get better at it and happy I finished.”

UCLA led by four at halftime and Iowa (4-2) cut the margin to two early in the third quarter, but was unable to get any closer.

“Compliments to Iowa. I think they are such a fundamentally sound basketball team,” Close said. “They know who they are. They play hard. They are really focused to get what they want.”

Jordin Canada and Kennedy Burke each added 13 points for UCLA.

Ally Disterhoft scored 16 points and Megan Gustafson added 15 to lead the Hawkeyes.

No. 10 Florida State 98, Winthrop 35

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Leticia Romero scored 17 points, and No. 10 Florida State put Winthrop awayin the Paradise Jam tournament.

Jasmine Walker added 14 points, Ivey Slaughter 13 and Nicole Ekhomu 11 for the Seminoles (4-1), who had 12 players score en route to their most-dominating win this season.

Florida State shot 61.5 percent from the field (40 of 65), while its defense held the Eagles (1-4) to 34.1 percent (14 of 41) and forced them into a season-worst 34 turnovers.

Behind the turnovers, the Seminoles, who had just 12 turnovers, outscored Winthrop 40-10, as well as had a 33-12 advantage in fast-break points. They also outrebounded the Eagles 33-25.

Erica Williams scored 12 points for Winthrop, which trailed 30-13 by the end of the first quarter and 53-16 at the halftime break.

No. 11 Stanford 74, Northeastern 45

CANCUN, Mexico — Erica McCall tied a career high with 27 points on Thursday and Stanford beat Northeastern in the first day of the Cancun Challenge.

McCall made 11 of 14 shots, including both of her 3-point attempts, and grabbed seven rebounds. Karlie Samuelson added six 3-pointers and 18 points for the Cardinal (4-1).

Stanford led by eight with 2:11 left in the third quarter and pulled away with a 19-1 burst. Nadia Fingall’s layup capped the run at 64-38 with 6:45 left in the fourth.

Both teams started the game with cold shooting — the Cardinal missed their first eight shots from the field and the Huskies (2-3) made one of their first eight shots. Stanford took the lead for good at 4-2 with 5:36 left in the first quarter.

No. 19 West Virginia 56,

Auburn 52

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Tynice Martin scored 16 points, Lanay Montgomery had 13 points and West Virginia held off Auburn to win the Savannah Invitational.

Auburn, which trailed by 14 points in the first half, took its first lead of the game at 45-44 on Katie Frerking’s layup with 8:04 to play. West Virginia didn’t make its first field goal of the fourth quarter until the 6:29 mark.

Jessica Jones made a layup for Auburn to tie it at 52-all with 1:19 left. After West Virginia called a timeout with 33.5 seconds left, Montgomery made a layup for a 54-52 lead with 12 seconds remaining.

Auburn missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left and Martin sealed it with two free throws.

Muldrow added eight points and 14 rebounds for West Virginia (6-0), which is off to its best start since the 2010-11 season when the Mountaineers won 16 straight.

Frerking made five 3-pointers and had her third double-double in four games for Auburn (5-1) with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Michigan 78,

No. 25 Gonzaga 66

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Katelynn Flaherty made four 3-pointers and scored 22 points, Siera Thompson added five 3s and 21 points, and Michigan beat Gonzaga in the Paradise Jam.

Nicole Munger played a key role in the final minutes for Michigan. She made a 3-pointer from the corner for a 70-63 lead with 3:19 left and drew a charge with 32.6 seconds remaining. She was fouled on the ensuing inbound play and hit two free throws for a 74-66 lead.

Hallie Thome had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists for Michigan (5-0), which never trailed. The Wolverines made 12 of 21 3-pointers while Gonzaga was just 3 of 20 (15 percent).

Boogie Brozoski hit a long contested 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give Michigan a 44-34 lead.

Jill Barta made 9 of 13 shots, hit all eight of her free-throw attempts and finished with a season high 27 points for Gonzaga (3-1). Emma Stach added 11 points and eight rebounds.

By Jason Subik

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