Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
The game against Washington State was pretty much a repeat of Thursday night's game against the Huskies, except the talent differential between UCLA and its opponent was more noticeable. Once again the biggest difficulty for UCLA was staying focused and taking WSU as seriously as USC or Cal. WSU had upset USC at the Galen center on Thursday, so UCLA had to respect the cougars.
Once again, however, UCLA came out playing solid defense but woefully sloppy offense. It's hard to tell how many of UCLA's turnovers came in the first half, but they were constantly throwing either careless passes or WSU would jump passing lanes and steal the ball. In the first half, WSU opened up on a 10-4 run hitting their first 5 shots in a row. A quick 6-0 run by UCLA tied the game up at 10. UCLA would regain the lead at the 15:39 mark, thanks to a basket by Rebekah Gardner, to put the score at 14-12.
UCLA used a 19-4 run midway through the half to take a 38-22 lead, and it looked like despite all of the turnovers for UCLA, WSU was out of it. However, those turnovers started to bite UCLA in the butt and WSU used a 13-3 run to cut the lead to 6, before UCLA went into halftime up 43-35. The big story of the first half, besides how sloppy UCLA was on offense, was that Rebekah Gardner came off of the bench to score 17 in the first half on almost perfect shooting. (5-6, 3-4 from 3)
Just like on Thursday, UCLA came out of the locker room, turned up the defensive pressure, *relatively* did a better job on turnovers, and Washington State proved to be no match at that point. WSU was held to just 23 points the entire half including extended garbage time, while UCLA scored 50. Both Jackie Shepard and Allison Taka were able to get into the game for the Bruins, which definitely made the crowd happy.
So what made this game so sloppy? UCLA committed an astounding 36 turnovers off of 23 Washington State steals. Not to be outdone though, WSU turned the ball over an even worse 38 times off of 20 UCLA steals. What makes this so confusing is that UCLA averages 17 turnovers a game and their opponents 19, and both of those stats were DOUBLED today. Amazing that UCLA could take such poor care of the ball and still score 93 points, it was very perplexing. Nikki Caldwell during her post game interview really harped on the 74 combined turnovers and how unbelievable and unacceptable that is, but consdering UCLA's season average, hopefully today was just a terrible, terrible abberation. As always, UCLA's defense continues to stay solid despite a weekend full of offensive miscues for the Bruins.
Turnovers aside, the box score was very pleasant to look at for the Bruins. 5 Bruins scored in double digits, lead by Rebekah Gardner's career high 19 (and she's proving to be a 3-point threat that will be very useful), 16 for Jasmine Dixon (with 10 rebounds for a double double), a season high 13 for Nina Earl, 13 for Doreena Campbell, and 11 for Moniquee Alexander. 3 of our bench players (Moniquee, Nina, and Rebekah) had amazing games, and our bench contributed 47 points, having a great game on the day. UCLA destroyed WSU on the boards 47-22, outshot the cougars 58%-40%, and dominated the scoring in the paint 52-18. UCLA also shot a good 73% from the freethrow line.
While Rebekah Gardner or Jasmine Dixon can easily be considered the player of the game, Moniquee Alexander deserves special mention. Today's game was the pink zone game dedicated towards raising money and increasing awareness for breast cancer. Moniquee Alexander lost her mom to breast cancer, and has been very vocal about how important the pink zone game is to her, seeing all of the pink shirts in the crowd, all of the survivors, and what that means to her and her family. Moniquee responded today with a passionate and hard effort game, finishing with 11 points on perfect shooting from the floor and 3-4 from the free throw line, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. A very good game for Moniquee.
With the win today, UCLA improves their record to 18-7 (11-3), and most noticeably have won 8 of their last 9 games. UCLA holds a 2 game lead over Cal for 2nd place, and at least 3 games on everyone else in the conference. UCLA goes on their last road trip of the season at the Oregon schools, facing Oregon State first on Thursady. The increased success of the Bruins have increased their TV appeal, as the UCLA-Oregon game on saturday is now slated to be televised.