Bumped. Thankfully we still have a basketball "team" in Westwood. GO BRUINS. -N
UCLA tonight took on an Oregon team that was both very dangerous and glaringly weak. What makes Oregon so dangerous is their offensive fire power, they lead the nation in points per game, and it showed tonight that they are an offensively potent team and a very strong jumpshooting team. However, they also allow the most points in conference, and their weak defense was GLARING. I have never seen a team before that was a score at all costs, worry about defense later (never?) before. Time and time again Oregon would score but UCLA would expose their lazy defense by streaking down the court for a wide open layup. Oregon could shoot all over the floor, but UCLA would just respond with an easy layup on the other end.
The game started off back and forth, but the game would turn into each team trading 7-9 point runs. Down 14-12, UCLA scored 7 straight points in just a minute to take a 19-14 lead. From that point, UCLA would build up a 7-10 point lead, Oregon would cut it to 3 points, UCLA would build it back up, repeat for the rest of the half. UCLA would go into halftime up 50-47. UCLA's 50 points at halftime is a new record for the season, and considering UCLA normally scores in the 50s/60s in a game, we could tell this was not going to be a low scoring game we were accustomed to.
In the second half, Oregon grabbed the lead back briefly at 53-52 with 17:56 left, but UCLA once again scored 7 points in just over a minute. UCLA would go up by 9 with 14:54 left after a 3 by Doreena Campbell, but Oregon went on a 10-4 run to cut the lead to 70-67. At that point, UCLA went on a decisive 16-2 run, and absolutely shut down the Oregon offense to go up 86-69 with 4:48 to play. At that point, the game was over and UCLA closed out with some more easy baskets for a final score of 104-80. 80 points is the most allowed by UCLA all season, but I think that is just a factor of Oregon playing a style that no one else really plays. Oregon also scored 80 against Stanford, but gave up 100, so UCLA game planned perfectly, and adjusted to not having a game in the 60s, absolutely exploiting Oregon's shoddy defense for easy baskets.
B_D was kind enough to take pictures during the game and send them to me for this post, since he felt that they were not enough for a separate post but would supplement this one nicely.
UCLA's scoring was very balanced, with 6 players in double digits, the first time that has happened in a game since 2006. Unsurprisingly Jasmine Dixon was our leading scorer with 20 points. However, the player of the game was Markel Walker. After a very disappointing weekend up in Washington where she did not start either game and scored a total of 5 or 6 points, her stat line was 17 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and only 1 turnover, all in just 25 minutes because she was hit in the eye in the second half and sat out most of the rest of the game (she did play in the end so she seems alright). Doreena Campbell also had 17, a career high 15 for Mariah Williams, a season high 11 for Nina Earl, and 10 for Rebekah Gardner. 10 of our 11 players scored tonight, including walk on Jackie Shepard which was very exciting to see.
Mariah Williams easily had her best game as a Bruin. I never quite understood why she replaced Darxia Morris in the starting line up, as Darxia played more minutes, and is probably the most clutch jump shooter on the team in critical situations. While Darxia easily had her poorest game of the season (2 fouls in the first kept her on the bench for much of the 1st half, and finished with only 4 points), Mariah showed for the first time that she can contribute a solid part of the scoring as well. Whether Darxia or Mariah starts, it gives the team extra depth that is very key.
Looking at the box score, there is very little to be upset about. UCLA outshot Oregon 51% to 41%, and held a dangerous 3 point shooting team to only 24% from beyond the arc. UCLA's freethrow shooting was improved, going 18-23, with Markel Walker, normally a weak freethrow shooter hitting 7 of 8. UCLA only had 16 turnovers against 19 for Oregon. Where UCLA absolutely DOMINATED Oregon was on the boards, outrebounding them 53-32, allowing UCLA to attempt 81 shots to just 69 for Oregon. UCLA's bench completely out performed Oregon's, 29-4, and UCLA outscored Oregon in the paint 58-26, with so many of those being on uncontested shots.
UCLA is now 13-6 (6-2), and finish up the first half of the conference season Saturday at 2pm against Oregon state. Oregon State is 1-7, losing tonight to USC scoring only 34 points, so UCLA should have a much different game than they had tonight. Hopefully UCLA will come out fired up for that game. If UCLA wins, finishing the front half of the conference season 7-2 would be amazing. UCLA already is off to it's best conference start since the 2002-2003 season, and it's two road sweeps are the first time UCLA has swept 2 road series since the late 90s, so it is clear Nikki is moving this team in the right direction.