Bumped ICYM this huge win. They are back tomorrow afternoon at Pauley v. UCDavis (2 pm PST). GO BRUINS. -N
As was discussed in the preview to the season, what UCLA was really missing last year was a quality non-conference victory or victory over a top 15 team to point to when tournament seeding came around, and tonight UCLA had an opportunity to not only gain some early bonus points for march, but national respect playing on the road at #12 Notre Dame. The game started off back and forth as after the first 8 minutes, the teams were tied at 14. UCLA started to make a move, and used a 16-6 run to take a 30-20 lead with 6 and a half minutes left in the half. While UCLA was posed to get some distance between themselves and the Irish and keep the crowd out of the game, the Bruins started to find themselves in foul trouble, and the Irish started hitting shots as their crowd got back into the game. Notre Dame closed out on a 17-11 run to cut the Bruin lead at half to 41-37. For the half, UCLA went 0-4 from 3, but used close to 47% shooting and an improved 11-14 performance from the freethrow line to maintain a lead on the road.
In the second half, Notre Dame would shoot 46% to only 36% for the Bruins as they made their move. With about 14 minutes left in the game, Notre Dame regained their lead at 49-47. Still, UCLA fought hard and regained their lead and pushed it up back to 7 with 8 minutes left. Notre Dame at that point went on a 16-5 run to take a 67-63 with only 45 seconds left, and it looked as if perhaps UCLA was going to falter late on the road and miss out on what could have been a huge victory. UCLA however would not fold. Jasmine Dixon was fouled with 28 seconds left, making only 1 to cut the lead 67-64. UCLA fouled the Irish who missed the 1 and 1, and Darxia Morris came through with a 3 when the team really needed it with 10 seconds left. Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins missed a final shot, and the game went into overtime. What kept UCLA in the game despite the disparity in shooting performance was that UCLA went 8-11 from the line while Notre Dame only went 1-2.In the first Overtime, teams traded leads as Notre Dame would go up by 2, then the Bruins by 3, then Notre dame by 1. With the score tied, Natalie Novosel scored with 10 seconds left, and UCLA once again was in a position where they had to score to stay alive. After a time out, UCLA ran a play to free up Jasmin Dixon, as she hit a layup with 2 seconds left, and the teams were tied up again at 79 and went to Double OT.
In the second Overtime, the Bruins got off to a good start as Darxia Morris hit her 3rd 3. Notre Dame cut the lead to 84-83 with 2 and a half minutes left in overtime, but from there neither team could score. UCLA seemed to be in trouble as Rebekah Gardner fouled Natalie Novosel with only 8 seconds left, but perhaps due to exhaustion, Novosel missed both freethrows and UCLA still clung to a 1 point lead. Markel Walker got the rebound and with 5 seconds left was fouled. However, Markel missed both freethrows, Notre Dame called timeout down 1 with the ball to draw up one final play. Darxia Morris once again would enter the role of hero, as she stole the inbounds pass, was fouled, and made both freethrows, to seal thee 86-83 double OT victory for the Bruins.
The Bruins had 5 players in double figures. Jasmine Dixon led the Bruins with 18 points and 11 rebounds. For someone who has been a poor freethrow shooter, her 6-8 performance was very clutch in such a close game. Darxia Morris finished with 17 points, went 3-6 from behind the arc which is nice to see someone emerge as a 3 point threat. Markel Walker came off the bench with 16 points, though surprisingly only 4 rebounds. Rebekah Garder had 12 points, and Atonye finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, and her minutes continue to increase as she gets back into her normal form. Doreena Campbell had only 8 points, but eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark tonight, becoming the 24th Bruin to do so.
UCLA narrowly won the rebounding battle 46-43, and won the battle at the line 22-31 to 10-19. The game was definitely a messy game, as UCLA committed 26 turnovers, only to be outdone by Notre Dame's 27 turnovers, though it did seem that the turnovers increased as the teams became more and more fatigued as the game wore on. UCLA allowing 45% shooting for a game perhaps is not going to make Nikki happy, but the team got the job done. UCLA now has a 3-0 record and a big victory they can point to when the selection committee decides what seed to give the Bruins. UCLA next faces UC Davis (2-0) at Pauley Sunday afternoon at 2pm.