#9 UCLA entered the home stretch of the Pac-10 season in what is probably the easiest homestand weekend for any school: the Washington schools. I had no doubt that UCLA would come away winners tonight, but what I was curious about was would the intensity and focus be there? UCLA has locked itself into the 2 seed for the pac-10 tournament (with the double bye it affords), the Washington schools won't improve UCLA's tournament seeding at all, and the Bruins might just generally overlook the Huskies. Thankfully, UCLA came out with 40 minutes of focus on the defensive end, and despite a few offensive lapses, were in control of the game from start to finish. Also appearing in Pauley Pavilion tonight was Regina Rogers, the former Bruin who transferred to Washington who would have been a senior on this year's team.
|From 20110303WBB vs UW|
With UCLA holding onto a 6-5 lead with 16:44 left, UCLA went on a 14-0 run to jump out to a 20-5 lead with 9 minutes remaining in the half. Washington's next 4 points came from the free throw line. After making a 3 at the 16:44 mark, Washington's next basket came from Regina Rogers, a full 12 minutes later at the 4:47 mark, and by that time UCLA's lead was 28-11. Regina's basket was also the first points for the huskies from a player not named Sarah Morton, as for the first 15+ minutes of the game, Morton was the ONLY husky to score.
The crowd had a mixture of laughs and boos as Regina scored, as it was almost funny to watch Washington turn into a one woman show, and at that Sarah Morton wasn't shooting that hot, as she finished the game 3-8 from the field and with a horrendous 12 turnovers. We had a good time heckling her, especially in the first half. Washington's star player, Kristi Kingma, had only 3 points in the half as UCLA went into the lockerroom with a 30-16 lead. For the half, UCLA shot almost 45% to just 25% for the huskies, as well as forced 13 turnovers from Washington.
|From 20110303WBB vs UW|
To start the second half, UCLA's offense was still in the lockerroom. UCLA took over 4 minutes to score their first points of the half, but to their defense's credit, Washington was only able to close to 30-20 before UCLA came back roaring. After Washington was only able to manage a 4-0 run in the first 4 minutes, UCLA used a 15-0 run in the next 4 to take a 45-20 lead, their largest of the game. At that point, the classic story of Nikki Caldwell getting the bench in, the bench playing with good effort on defense, but not really putting points up on the other end caused the lead to shrink as close as 13 as Washington hit a few late 3s. That would be as close as Washington would get as UCLA pushed the lead back up to 18 and was able to finish the game with the bench, including walk-on Jackie Shepard on the court and close out with a 60-42 win. For the half, UCLA shot 53% to 37% for Washington, though UW did make 4 for 9 from 3 in the half. B D made his glorious return to Pauley tonight and provided pictures of the game. (Question will be: will he provide pictures of the mens or womens NCAA tournament, as the band will have to split into 2 bands)
Looking at the box score, you'd have to be pretty happy with what you see. Of course, you have to accept the fact that 1) UCLA isn't a 3 point shooting team (1-5 on the night) and that the bench won't provide loads of scoring unless Rebekah Gardner has a big night (15 bench points tonight, 7 from Rebekah Gardner). That aside, UCLA shot a great 48% on the night to a low 32% for the Huskies, while shooting a good (for this team) 76.5% from the freethrow line. UCLA won the battle of the boards 33-28, and more importantly took better care of the ball with 15 turnovers, compared to 23 for Washington off of 14 Bruin steals. Usually pac-10 teams seem to figure out the Bruin press slightly better the 2nd time around conference play, but Washington appeared confused, harassed, and pressured all night long.
|From 20110303WBB vs UW|
3 Bruins finished with double digit scoring. Atonye Nyingifa led the Bruins with 14 points as well as a team high 7 rebounds. I feel like I'm always trying to say something complimentary of Atonye, but i've just been extremely impressed with how she's come back from her season-ending injury from last year. Jasmine Dixon, while surprisingly quiet on the boards, had 13 points, while Markel Walker was a force in the first half en route to 12 points. Surprisingly, Darxia Morris had a pretty off night with 0 points on 0-4 shooting, though Nikki seemed to sense it as she only saw 17 minutes of play. For that matter, no Bruin played 30 minutes or more, as Nikki was able to get extensive time for her bench, which is nice to see the team blowout an inferior opponent despite extended minutes for the bench and 0 points from the team's leading scorer.
With the win tonight, UCLA improves to 25-3, 15-2. UCLA concludes the regular season at home Saturday at 2pm against Washington St. While I won't pretend this will be a very competitive game, the game has 2 special factors. For one, it is the last basketball game to be played in the old Pauley Pavilion, and 2, it is senior day for 4 Bruins who have been a huge factor in the turnaround of this program under Nikki Caldwell. Though recruited by Kathy Olivier, Nina Earl, Christina Nzekwe, Doreena Campbell, and Darxa Morris have worked hard for Coach Caldwell and will be suiting up for the last time in Pauley Pavilion, so it would be great for them to have a big, and appreciative crowd to send them out. Around the Pac-10, Stanford took care of Cal tonight to once again finish the Pac-10 18-0. USC defeated WSU at home, while the Arizona schools picked up 2 wins on the road, to keep all 3 teams' slim tournament hopes alive (i believe only one team of those 3 will make the tournament, baring something crazy happening in the Pac-10 tournament).