FanPost

Womens Basketball Advances to Pac-10 Tournament Finals With 63-50 Victory Over Cal

UCLA played their first ever game in Staples Center today, as the 2 seeded Bruins took on the 6 seeded Golden Bears.  While the UCLA crowd was small in the large Staples Center, the crowd and band created a virtual home game as it seemed that everyone in the building for the afternoon games came to support either UCLA or Stanford.

From 20110311Womens Pac10 Day 1 (Cal)

From the get-go, UCLA jumped all over Cal with a smothering defense that pressured and harassed a Cal team that must have been tired from 2 straight days of games.  UCLA took a 8-0 lead in the first 3 minutes, which turned into an 11-1 lead minutes later.  When UCLA took a 17-7 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the half, UCLA would never relinquish a double digit lead for the remainder of the game.  UCLA's lead in the first half got as large as 37-18, before going into the locker room up 39-23 at halftime.

In the first half, UCLA shot 48% to just 31% from Cal, while getting to the line 10 times to just 4 for Cal.

From 20110311Womens Pac10 Day 1 (Cal)

In the second half, the game seemed to just coast along with UCLA not expanding the lead into the high 20s, and Cal not cutting the lead into single digits.  UCLA's lead got as high as 23 points early in the 2nd half, before Nikki started mixing starters and subs throughout the game.  When this happened, UCLA's offense seemed to lose some flow, while the defense stayed strong.  This led to periods of offensive struggles, but UCLA held around an 18 point lead for the majority of the half until the end when Cal hit a few baskets against the UCLA bench players.  Cal actually "won" the half 27-26, but UCLA took home a 63-50 victory.  Cal shot an improved 37% in the 2nd half, though UCLA did slightly better with 41%. B D was present today and provided pictures from the game.

For the game, UCLA's guards seemed to play a lot of minutes, while the front court players got plenty of rest for the big Stanford game tomorrow.  UCLA out-rebounded the taller bears 40-32, but where UCLA did their damage was in forcing 19 turnovers with 14 steals, and despite UCLA committing 14 turnovers, UCLA had a dominating 29-10 advantage in points of turnovers, to offset the fact that UCLA and Cal tied at 22 points apiece in the paint.  UCLA did have a rather disappointing day at the freethrow line, shooting just 63%.  Both teams shot under 20% from 3, but this hurt Cal more as the UCLA fierce interior defense caused Cal to settle for 19 3 point attempts to just 8 for the Bruins.

From 20110311Womens Pac10 Day 1 (Cal)

3 Bruins scored in double figures on the game.  Atonye Nyingifa paced the Bruins with a career high 17 points to go with a team leading 9 rebounds.  Atonye is quickly becoming a favorite player of mine, and is an integral part of what makes UCLA's trapping defense so effective.  Darxia Morris had 14 points, and Doreena Campbell added 12, who paced the Bruins with 10 first half points.  Jasmine Dixon had a tough day on offense with just 4 points, but defensively today was one of the most impressive performances, as she showed off why she made all pac-10 defensive team alongside Darxia Morris. 

From 20110311Womens Pac10 Day 1 (Cal)

With the win, UCLA improves to 27-3 on the season.  Nikki Caldwell is now 2 wins away from tieing the all-time record for wins for a season.  UCLA now faces Stanford for the third time this season.  Earlier today, Stanford was dominating start to finish in a 100-71 victory over Arizona, setting a record for most points in a pac-10 tournament game by one team.  UCLA will face the same old story of being at a size and height disadvantage at basically every position on the court.  It will be interesting to see how Nikki game plans for a 3rd chance against the Cardinal.  Like I said before the game at Pauley, the play of Darxia Morris and Doreena Campbell in hitting open mid-range jumpers with the occasional 3-point shot will be critical to any success the Bruins may face.  If Jasmine Dixon has to take over the game, UCLA will be in big trouble as stanford loves to double and triple team Jasmine as soon as she gets the ball in the paint with players who have 4-5 inches on her.

The championship game of the pac-10 tournament will tip off at 11:30am, and should be televised by FSN.  Hopefully you can make it out to Staples to help UCLA counter the strong Stanford crowd that usually travels to support their team.  If not, try and catch the team on TV as Nikki attempts to break Stanford's conference tournament winning streak.

From 20110311Womens Pac10 Day 1 (Cal)

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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