UCLA Makes History Once Again In Final Game At Pauley, 66-48 over WSU

Bumped. Congrats to the best basketball program in Westwood, which has played together as a team, making the four letters throughout the entire season. -BN

#9 UCLA played their final game of the season, final home game of the season, and final game in the Old Pauley Pavilion today against Pac-10 cellar dwellers Washington St.  Before the game began, the four seniors were recognized in a ceremony, where players were presented with flowers and a framed photo of themselves by Nikki Caldwell as she posed for pictures with the players and their family.  It was a touching tribute for the final home game for Nina Earl, Christina Nzekwe, Doreena Campbell, and Darxia Morris, 4 Bruins who have played hard for Coach Caldwell and have been an instrumental part in changing the culture of the program.  For the game, the four seniors started in addition to Jasmine Dixon.

From 20110305_WBB vs WSU

Within 30 seconds, it was clear that WSU was completely overmatched in terms of talent and skill against the Bruins.  UCLA scored the first 13 points of the game, holding WSU scoreless for almost 8 minutes, and by the 7 minute mark of the first half, UCLA was cruising to a 25-4 lead. 

The UCLA press, which has worked to varying degrees of success recently, made Washington St look like a middle school team, as they turned the ball over time and again, and when they didn't, used close to half the shot clock just to get across half court, making their half-court offense have to speed up.  Washington St had committed 12 turnovers by the time they put 4 points on the board, which led to great amusement from those of us there.  UCLA started clearing the bench in the middle of the first half, allowing WSU to get some breathing room against UCLA's pressure, and by halftime, the score became 33-14. 

UCLA shot 43% in the half to 30% for the cougs, including a frigid 2 for 12 from behind the arc from WSU.

From 20110305_WBB vs WSU

In the 2nd half, UCLA used their large lead to allow them to get their bench many minutes.  No Bruin played more that 27 minutes, and due to Senior day, both Nina Earl and Christina Nzekwe played 20+ minutes, far more than their season averages.  With multiple starters out of the game, UCLA held a 48-26 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game.  In just 2 minutes, WSU cut the lead to 48-37 as they hit 3 3s in the spurt along with 2 freethrows.  Nikki decided to stomp any hope that Cougars had briefly built by bringing Jasmine Dixon, Doreena Campbell, Rebekah Gardner back into the game to join Darxia Morris. With UCLA's prime line-up in, UCLA ushered a 17-2 run for a 65-42 lead, highlighted by Darxia Morris catching fire, hitting 2 3s, a jumper, and a freethrow during the run.  UCLA closed out the game with their bench in the game, and finished with a 66-48 victory.

From 20110305_WBB vs WSU

Pictures of the game today are provided by B D.  Even though there is still the pac-10 tournament, and pending his tournament selection, the NCAA tournament for B D to provide more pictures, I wanted to take a moment to call appreciation to all the pictures that he has taken this season, both for my posts and his personal fan posts for the mens team.  They have been a great addition to the coverage that I have been trying to provide for this program, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and all of the pictures he provides adds more than can be described here in these game recaps.

The story of the game was UCLA's pressure harassing the Cougars all game long, causing 28 turnovers off of 22 Bruin steals.  UCLA turned those 28 turnovers into 36 points.  UCLA's freethrow shooting at 76.5% for the game (13-17) is about the best you could realistically expect from this team, and out-rebounded the Cougars 34-27.  One thing that would be nice to see UCLA improve on was the 30% from 3point range, just to provide an added dimension that teams come tournament time will have to be wary of, but I suppose if UCLA hasn't been a 3 point shooting team all season, it's probably too much to expect it to suddenly improve come march.

From 20110305_WBB vs WSU

For the day, 2 Bruins scored in double figures.  Jasmine Dixon was the hero today with 17 points and a team high 6 steals, while Darxia Morris added 15 points.  Nina Earl made the most of her increased playing time for 8 points, and Christina Nzekwe will go down in history as the last Bruin to ever score a point inside the old, legendary Pauley Pavilion.

With the victory today, UCLA improves to 26-3, 16-2 on the season.  I feel like every couple of weeks I am writing about more history that Nikki Caldwell has broken (and I will try and compile all of them at the end of the season).  Today, Nikki broke 2 more records.  With a 26-3 record, Nikki has set the record for most wins ever during the regular season, and the 16 conference wins sets a new record for most conference wins ever.  The UCLA season record for wins is 29, which Nikki is chasing and has a good chance to match or break pending how post-season play goes, and hopefully, I'll be writing about it not so long from now.

UCLA now moves onto the Pac-10 tournament where they are the 2 seed.  With the 2 seed, UCLA receives a double bye and automatically skips the opening rounds in the Galen Center and moves straight to the Semi-Finals at the Staples center on Friday.  For those of you hoping to catch the mens on friday should they make the semi-Finals, the women will be playing at 2:30pm.  For the 8 teams not named UCLA or Stanford, they will be playing games Wednesday and Thursday at the Galen center where 2 teams will advance to face UCLA and Stanford.  As my friend, BruinMarcher, speculates, the reason the 8 teams play 2 games before UCLA or Stanford ever will have to is so that teams on the brink of the tournament have a chance to win 2 extra games to pad their tournament profile before having to face potential Goliath teams in the Semis.  What this means for UCLA, however, is that whoever UCLA faces on friday will be playing their 3rd game in 3 days against a well rested Bruin team: a recipe for a blowout.  I'll be back this week to cover the Pac-10 Tournament.

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.

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