UCLA took their eight win on the road against Santa Barbara. The win was a great way to start off three-game journey on the road. While the Gauchos was an easier opponent to defeat, South Carolina will be a much tougher opponent, especially on the road.
The UCLA Bruins cruised to a 71-52 win against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. They opened the game with six points and although they retained the lead all game, they struggled in the second quarter. With only a few minutes remaining in the half, the game was all tied up 22-22. The Bruins allowed 15 unanswered points in the second quarter alone. The scoreboard did not remain like that for long as the Bruins came back to life in the last three minutes of the game to go 33-26 into the half.
Santa Barbara fought to catch up to UCLA, but the Bruins did not relent and took home their seventh consecutive win. Though they had the win, it was not the most impressive. It seems like I have written that multiple times, but it’s the truth. They thrived on the turnovers, but their shooting and rebounds were off. Coach Close also opted for a zone defense. Opting for that kind of defense is not strange at all, but questions arise when it’s against lesser ranked opponents (UCSB are 2-7, respectively). Now, bear with me. Close has a reason behind using a zone defense and that could be because she wants to develop habits. If the team gets used to playing this kind of defense against lower teams, then they will make a habit playing this style of play against higher ranked teams.
The South Carolina Gamecocks have a record of 8-1 as well. Their only loss came to No. 18 Duke. At home, South Carolina have a 5-0 record and do not plan to have their first home loss be to UCLA. The zone defense coach Close has been implementing these past couple of games will be vital against South Carolina. Though it has its weaknesses, a zone defense will be vital for UCLA if they want to defeat a stingy South Carolina team.
UCLA has been a little less than stellar in their play but somehow have managed to pull out the win. That works against unranked teams, but not against No. 6 South Carolina. The last time they played against a higher ranked team than them, they faced their first defeat. They will have to step up their game if they want to continue their winning streak.
#9 UCLA Women’s Basketball (8-1, 0-0)
Opponent: #6 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-1, 0-0)
When: 11 AM PT, Sunday, December 18, 2016
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
Stream: WatchESPN and the ESPN app