Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
UCLA learned tonight that when you're a ranked team, everyone else is going to give you their best shot. Last time UCLA faced ASU was the first week of January, ASU was ranked, and UCLA came in there and smacked the sun devils around 74-56. Now ASU wanted to spoil UCLA's new entrance into the top 25. In UCLA's last 8 wins, UCLA had won by an average of 78-57, and hadn't faced a close game down to the wire, so tonight's close game was the first time UCLA had been tested in a long time, which may not end up being such a bad thing in the long run, especially against a very sound ASU team that just isn't as talented as years past.
|From WBB vs. ASU|
The game started off great for UCLA. UCLA's defense was intense forcing ASU into many tough shots, as well as ASU's inability to convert a few easy attempts. It took ASU over 9 and a half minutes to make a basket, and by then UCLA had taken a 14-1 lead, as ASU missed their first 11 shots. However, ASU would make 5 of their next 6 shots and a 12-2 run cut the lead to 16-13 with 8:14 left in the half. Midway through the half, Markel Walker went down with an injury that kept her out for the rest of the half. Then, Jasmine Dixon seemed to tweak something and also stayed out for most of the rest of the half.
With Markel and Jasmine out, ASU cut the lead down to 1 before finally taking a lead at 23-22 with 1:52 remaining in the half, but Erica Tukiainen hit 1 out of 2 freethrows to tie the game at 23 going into halftime. In the first half, no Bruin had more than 5 points, and Markel, Jasmine, Darxia all had only 2 points each. UCLA shot almost 42% in the first half to just 30% for ASU.
|From WBB vs. ASU|
One thing that seemed to be an issue during the game is that ASU was able to pack the paint against us because they know that's what we want to do. UCLA could have taken a few outside shots to try and keep the defense honest, but by only attempting 3 outside shots all game long (hitting 2 of them), ASU was never really forced to extend their defense and respect UCLA's outside threats in Doreena, Erica, Rebekah, and Darxia.
Just like in the first half, UCLA came out strong in the second half, starting on a 15-3 run, 7 of which were thanks to Jasmine Dixon, to take a 38-26 lead with 15:51 remaining. But a 20-10 run for ASU cut UCLA's lead to 48-46 with 6 minutes left. Twice during the run Jasmine Dixon, normally UCLA's clutch player, missed easy lay ups, and both Jasmine and Christina missed front ends of 1 and 1s. The player who stepped up when the game was close was Darxia Morris, scoring 10 in the second half, all coming at critical moments when UCLA needed a basket to stop any momentum ASU was trying to build.
|From WBB vs. ASU|
UCLA responded with a 8-1 run to take a 56-47 lead with 2:38 remaining, and it looked like UCLA had finally put the game away, but ASU wouldn't go down that easy. Dorenna Campbell fouled out with 44 seconds remaining and UCLA holding to a 5 point lead. With her fouling out, so too went UCLA's best freethrow shooter and ball handler. With 30 seconds remaining and UCLA up 60-54, ASU's Becca Tobin scored with a foul, and converted the 3 point play to cut the lead to 3. Rebekah Gardner was fouled on the inbounds, and made 1 out of 2 freethrows to push the lead back up to 4.
ASU scored again with 7 seconds remaining cut the lead to 2 with 7 seconds remaining. UCLA threw the inbounds pass out of bounds and ASU got the ball back with 6 seconds left, and somehow found themselves in a position to win the game. However, Markel Walker was able to knock a pass away and off of a Sun Devil player to regain possession of the ball with 1.3 seconds left. Erica Tukiainen was fouled with a second left, hit both free throws, for a final score of 63-59. Pictures courtesy of B D, with a special thanks as always.
4 Bruins scored in double digits. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but our leading scorer was Jasmine Dixon with 14, 12 for Darxia who saw the most playing time on the floor today due to her clutch 2nd half shooting, as well as 10 points for both Doreena Campbell and Erica Tukiainen. After the game, in her post game interview, Nikki explained that she wanted to hand the reigns of the team over to Doreena in the second half to have her lead the team to either victory or defeat, and that she responded well in leading the team, and felt that the game ball should go to her. As always, while Nikki is proud of her team for finding a way to win in any situation, the turnovers continue to frustrate her, as she focused on the fact that UCLA shot 51% for the game but turned the ball over 22 times, believing that if UCLA could limit turnovers to 12 a game, there is no reason this team wouldn't be scoring in the high 70s or 80s every game.
Rounding out the box score, UCLA outshot ASU 51% to 34%, outrebounded them 35-33, and actually had 1 less turnover than the Sun Devils, but ASU did their damage at the freethrow line making 17 of 21 to keep the game close. UCLA is generally a very strong offensive rebounding team but only had 7 offensive boards tonight, which limited UCLA's scoring opportunities. UCLA once again won the battle in the paint 34-26, but ASU's bench was able to outscore ours 22-13, and it was very clear that Nikki, at least tonight, was relying heavily on the starters to bring home the victory.
With the win tonight, UCLA improves to 21-7 (14-3) having won 7 in a row and 11 of the last 12. UCLA will finish the regular season with their senior day against Arizona on Saturday at 12:30pm. Arizona lost a close battle to USC tonight by 2, fought UCLA very tough in their first match up back in January, and feature the leading rebounder in the pac-10. On senior day, UCLA will recognize Erica Tukiainen, Allison Taka, and Moniquee Alexander in their last home game as Bruins. They have done an amazing job buying into Nikki's system and helping to bring this team back into the national rankings, and hopefully the NCAA tournament, so come out to Pauley and support these 3 amazing seniors.