BERKELEY, Calif. – Darxia Morris had a career-high 22 points, Jasmine Dixon shook off some early shooting struggles to make two key baskets down the stretch and No. 8 UCLA held on to beat California 65-56 on Saturday.
The Bruins were far from sharp offensively most of the game and couldn't put the pesky Golden Bears away until Atonye Nyingifa made four free throws in the final 52.6 seconds to seal the win.
Nyingifa finished with 14 points and seven rebounds for UCLA (16-2, 6-1 Pac-10), which bounced back from Thursday's 26-point loss to No. 4 Stanford.
DeNesha Stallworth scored 22 points for California (11-7, 3-4 Pac-10), which lost at home for just the second time this season.
UCLA committed 16 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and nearly blew a 14-point lead in the second half before holding on for its fourth straight win over California.
It wasn't easy and it definitely wasn't pretty.
The Bears scored six straight six straight points and pulled within 60-56 on Eliza Pierre's breakaway layup with 57.3 seconds left. Pierre was fouled on the play but missed the free throw and Cal couldn't get closer.
Pierre's miss was the fifth straight from the stripe over the final 5:17 for the Bears, who had missed only one prior to their struggles down the stretch.
That enabled UCLA to extend its best start since beginning 18-2 during the 1980-81 season.
The Bruins, who saw their 13-game conference winning streak snapped with the loss to Stanford, also continued their streak of defensive gems. California committed 16 turnovers, shot only 39.1 percent in the first half and was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers.
UCLA has not allowed an opponent to score more than 67 points in regulation this season. Then-No. 12 Notre Dame scored 83 in a double-overtime loss to the Bruins on Nov. 18.
Dixon finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, Morris added six assists and Doreena Campbell had 13 points for UCLA.
Morris had 11 points in the first half and was one of the few UCLA players shooting well early. After going 3 of 10 with nine points in the loss to Stanford, Morris made five of her first eight shots against Cal and had 11 points by halftime.
Morris made an 8-foot jumper from the right side to give the Bruins a 32-19 lead with 34.6 seconds remaining.
Despite committing 12 turnovers in the first half, UCLA still took a 32-23 advantage into the break while holding Cal to just three baskets over the last six minutes before halftime.
The Bruins pulled away to start the second half and led 47-33 on Morris's 6-footer from the baseline. Cal responded with an 8-0 run and continued to chip away at UCLA's lead, getting within six points four different times.
But the Bears couldn't make their free throws and Dixon scored on consecutive trips down the court to help the Bruins hold on.