Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
After a heartbreaking and disappointing loss to Texas Tech on Friday, UCLA (5-4) took on Saint Mary's (9-4) in a rare weekday morning game, playing at noon at Pauley. The effort and intensity level was much improved from friday's game, though the level of competition may or may not have had something to do with it, though neither Texas Tech nor Saint Mary's are power schools.
The first half was tough for UCLA. The score was close with multiple ties in the early going. A 4 point play by Darxia Moris sparked UCLA to take their first double digit lead of the game, but Saint Mary's would close out the half by cutting the lead to 3 before UCLA would finish the half up by 5. UCLA completely dominated the 2nd half, allowing only 20 points, including garbage time, completely frustrating the Gaels with strong defense and a steady stream of inside scoring and fast break points. Darxia lead the bruins with 20 points, and Markel Walker and Doreena Campbell also finished with double digits. UCLA's lone walk-on, Jackie Shepard, was able to get into the game in the last few minutes which was very nice to see. Finally, though she only scored 6 points, Rebekah Gardner really stood out to me in her hustle and was a key element to UCLA taking over in the second half.
After the game, Nikki praised the effort of the team, especially the defensive intensity. Looking at the box score, seen here, UCLA was smothering, out rebounding the Gaels 47-32, forcing 20 turnovers, and shooting only 32% for the game. Saint Mary's was forced into taking alot of outside shots, only connecting on 4 of 23 3pointers.
UCLA's offense also had a much better performance, shooting 49%, and impressively having 23 assists on 33 made baskets. Really the only things you could nit-pick on would be UCLA continues to be inconsistent from behind the arc, shooting 3-12.
Now sitting at 6-4, UCLA will take on LMU at home next Monday night to end out the non-conference season. If UCLA can win that game, they will enter the conference season 7-4. I personally believe if UCLA wants to feel comfortable getting a tournament bid, they need to hopefully reach 20 wins (we got to 19 last year) and finish in the top 3 preferably, or top 4 of the conference. The pac-10 usually is a 3 bid league, so if we could finish top 3 that would be great. Stanford right now is looking like they'll run away with the conference, #2 in the nation and destroying other top 10 teams, watch them play #1 UCONN coming up. After that, ASU is probably the next biggest threat, followed by Cal, though Cal has slipped this year losing some major talent due to graduation, suffering an inexcusable home loss to SJSU earlier in the season.