Bumped with video thanks to cdpham. GO BRUINS.
UCLA came into Pauley tonight to play a down but still very dangerous Cal team, lead by one of the best players in the conference, Alexis Gray-Lawson. While Cal's 6-6 record reflects a slide down from where they've been in the past, with 4 of their loses coming against highly ranked teams, this was a battle tested team that came out to play. From the opening tip, this game was a defensive showdown, with both teams playing with more tenacity and passion on the defensive side of the ball than i've seen in any other game this year. There were few easy opportunities for either team, reflected by both teams scoring 0 points on fast breaks, and both teams would have to work deep into the shot clock on every possesion.
In the first half, UCLA and Cal had played to a 9-9 stalemate after 10 minutes of play. Cal would then go on a mini run to hold a 6 point lead with a little under 6 minutes to play, with UCLA only scoring 3 points over that time period. However, UCLA would hold Cal over the last 5:18 of the half to just 2 points thanks to lock down defense by the Bruins, and could go into the locker room up 22-21 at half.
In the second half, Cal would jump out to a 30-28 lead at the 15:10 mark. However, Cal would not score again until under the 8 minute mark, as UCLA went on an 11-0 run to take a 39-30 lead. Cal would make it interesting cutting the lead to 6 several times, unable to ice the game missing too many freethrows (8-19 in the second half, 0-5 by Jasmin Dixon) but their defense held strong and UCLA would win 57-46.
Jasmin Dixon would be the only Bruin to score in double digits, with 13 points. Our leading scorer, Markel Walker, appeared in the game wearing a mask, and after taking a beating inside several times (and never drawing a whistle), she was held out for most of the game, scoring only 1 point. Hopefully, she should be available on Sunday. Markel's presence on the boards was certainly missed, as Cal outrebounded us big time, 49-34, some on lucky bounces, others on pure effort. Thankfully, UCLA's defense still forced them into terrible shot selections, and held Cal to 28% shooting on the night, compared to 43% for the Bruins.
With our leading scorer out, and the team struggling to score, the big story of the night was the inspired play of our bench players. They all deserve special recognition and a ton of praise. Not known for contributing alot of our scoring, our bench outscored Cal's 26-6, by far the decisive factor in the game, and accounting for 45% of our scoring. Nina Earl (6 points), Christina Nzekwe (7), Mariah Williams (4), Moniquee Alexander (4) and Rebekah Garnder (5) stepped up when they were needed most, and their defensive intensity was just as noticeable, especially Moniquee and Christina not giving up an inch inside the paint.
Also negating Cal's rebounding advantage was the fact that UCLA forced Cal into 23 turnovers, thanks in part to 13 steals. Also, despite atrocious freethrow shooting (11-23), UCLA not only stayed out of foul trouble this game, but drew 23 fouls and kept key players from Cal on the bench with foul trouble.
Now 10-4 (3-0) in the Pac-10 , UCLA has their biggest challenge and home game of the season, when #2 Stanford visits Pauley on Sunday for a 2pm game. Stanford crushed USC tonight by 20, never really in danger at any point in time. UCLA is going to need Markel, Christina, Moniquee, and the entire team to shut down Stanford's dominating post play to stay in the game. Anyone and everyone in the area should go support the team and make this one of the biggest homecourt advantages of the season for the team. If there is someway to post the time of the game on the front page and encourage people to go, that would be greatly appreciated.