UCLA entered their last non-conference game last night with a 6-4 record against a 6-6 LMU. UCLA started the first half strong, taking an early lead. Between the 11 minute mark and the 6 minute mark of the half, however UCLA started to play sloppy ball and saw a 7 point lead turn into a 5 point deficit. It took a 3 pointer by Erica Tukiainen on UCLA's last possession of the half for UCLA to go into the locker room with a 2 point lead. The game ended up being a repeat of the Saint Mary's game from last week with a rough first half, and coming out in the second half with more energy and dominating in the game. UCLA held LMU to 17 points in the second half, getting up to a 25 point lead at one point, before settling for a 21 point win. Once again, walkon Jackie Shepard was able to get in during the last minute. 3 Bruins scored in double figures, with Markel Walker leading the Bruins with 20 points. Box score is seen here.
So why was the first and second half so different? For one, LMU was hitting their 3s in the first half (5 of 9) to keep the game close and then take the lead, while in the second half went cold shooting a poor 1 for 12. Doreena Campbell was the player of the 2nd half, scoring all 14 of her points (a season high) in the 2nd half. LMU just couldn't get too many good looks and UCLA was scoring well in transition, outgaining LMU 22-10 in points off turnovers, as well as 28-10 in the paint. For the game, UCLA out-rebounded LMU 49-33, and took much better care of the ball than in previous games, having only 13 turnovers. One curious issue is the seemingly shrinking playing time for Nina Earl, who played only 9 minutes tonight, and seems to be getting less time on the court, so it would be very interesting to know why one of our veterans is losing time. She wasn't in any foul trouble and scored 6 points, hitting both of her shots and 2 free throws.
UCLA now enters conference play with a 7-4 record. UCLA now starts the conference season at the Arizona schools after the new years, and then hosts the bay area schools the week after in Pauley. After the jump, I'll take a look at the rest of the pac-10 up to this point.
Here are the pac-10 standings to this point, along with meaningful wins/losses
#1 Stanford (9-1) Good wins: #8 Duke, #3 Tennessee. Bad loses: None. Notes: Only loss this season has been at #1 UCONN, and even lead at halftime of that game. Stanford is the clear favorite to not only win, but dominate the conference
#2 Oregon State (7-2) Good wins: None. Bad loses: UCSB Notes: This good record is against a very week schedule, with loses to a bad UCSB (3-7) and an ok Houston (6-5), so this probably won't hold up during conference play.
#3 Oregon (9-3) Good wins: None. Bad loses: None. Notes: Oregon, like Oregon State, played a very weak schedule. Their loses have at least come against better competition than Oregon State, losing to Wisconsin, and on the road at Georgia Tech and Utah. Maybe a middle of the road pac-10 team.
#4 Arizona State (8-3) Good wins: None. Bad loses: None. Notes: ASU has won 7 games against cupcakes, and lost 3 games to ranked teams, 2 of which were on the road (@ #14 Xavier, #11 Texas A&M, @ #5 Baylor). ASU tends to finish in the top 3 of the conference, and i'd be surprised if they didn't finish in the top half, but they aren't as strong as last year.
#5 UCLA (7-4) Good wins: Princeton. Bad loses: None. Notes: while Princeton isn't ranked, they will most likely win their conference and be a tournament team UCLA can point to that they beat. the loss to Illinois State to start the season would hopefully not happen again at this point in the season. UCLA lost their 2 road ranked games (vs Tennessee and Kansas) in which they lead at halftime in both. UCLA could have used a win in one of those for their profile, but a top 3 finish in the conference is still possible to send the team to the tournament.
#6 USC (6-4) Good wins: #14 Texas, #22 Mississippi State. Bad loses: None. Notes: During a tournament, USC had huge back to back wins over two ranked teams. 2 of USC's 4 loses have come against ranked teams ( Xavier, @ Duke). This team has probably been the biggest surprise for the conference, especially given that USC seemed to be hit by quite a few injuries before the season started. New coach Michael Cooper has been doing a good job, but it'll be interesting to see how they fare during conference season, probably finishing in the top half.
#7 Arizona (5-4) Good wins: None. Bad loses: UC Riverside. Notes: Arizona has a very bad loss against UC Riverside to go along with 3 other loses to mediocre teams, and no real significant win to point to that would suggest Arizona would finish in the top half of the conference. Probably not a good year for them.
#8(tied) Cal (5-5) Good wins: None. Bad loses: San Jose State, Boston College. Notes: Easily by far the most disappointing team of the conference to this point. Cal has been right up there with Stanford at the top of the conference recently, and at least in womens basketball, recruiting in the pac-10 starts in the bay area so there is no reason for the talent to have dipped. Granted, 3 loses have come to top 10 teams (Baylor, Texas A&M, @ Ohio State), there is also a terrible home loss to SJSU and a loss to last place in the ACC Boston College. If Cal slips to the bottom half of the conference this season it would be as shocking as UCLA's struggles this year in mens bball.
#8(tied) Washington (5-5) Good wins: None. Bad loses: Portland State, Sacramento State. Notes: This will not be a good team this year. I'm hearing that the program is in bad shape with either injuries or transfer issues, to go along with a head coach who probably won't survive the season. It will be interesting to see Washington come to pauley when Regina Rogers (former bruin) suits up to play against us after transfering 2 seasons ago.
#10 Washington State (5-6) Good wins: None. Bad loses: None. Notes: Never known as a pac-10 power, WSU figures to have another bottom of the conference year. Interestingly, none of the teams they have lost to would be considered "bad loses", in fact losing to quite a few strong teams. Probably will finish ahead of Washington at the very least.