After defeating the then-#3 Baylor Bears on Saturday, UCLA faces yet another tough challenge as they host the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies tonight in Pauley Pavilion.
Last season, the Bruins lost to Baylor by 14 points in Waco. This time, UCLA was going to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. And, the Bruins pulled off the upset and defeated the Lady Bears 82-68.
Going into the game, the Bruins knew the biggest threat was going to be junior center, Kalani Brown. Brown has accumulated quite the reputation. In her freshman year, she recorded 19 double figures in the 38 games she played in. Brown holds the top career field goal percentage in Baylor Women’s Basketball history at .648 and Baylor’s single-season field goal percentage record of .619 with a .679% in the 2016-2017 season. So, Cori Close knew that Brown was going to be a force to be reckoned with and, while the Bruins tried to hold her back, they couldn’t. Brown registered a game-high 33 points even though she had picked up four fouls.
While Brown played her game, the rest of the Baylor team didn’t. According to ESPN, if Brown’s stats are taken away, Baylor would have only shot 28.8% from the field.
In UCLA’s first two games, the freshmen played huge roles, but not this game. It was the upperclassmen who stepped up to upset Baylor. Monique Billings ended the game with 21 points, Jordin Canada registered a double-double with 20 points and 13 assists, and Kennedy Burke had 19 points. Meanwhile, the freshman only combined for a total of five points.
In their last four meetings, UConn has beaten UCLA. The most recent being in the Sweet Sixteen of last season’s NCAA Tournament. The Bruins lost 86-71. While Canada, Billings, and Kari Korver lead in the double-digits, the team as a whole could not come together in the first half and that was, ultimately, their undoing.
It’s no doubt tonight will be a big night in facing UConn. Against Baylor, the Bruins played well in every aspect of the game in the defense and the offense. They were consistent. That was a big problem they had last season. They couldn’t stay consistent from week to the next week. While it is only the beginning of the season, their consistency has improved.
UConn might be down a player tonight as Katie Lou Samuelson is doubtful for tonight’s game after she injured her foot last Friday. If Samuelson is out tonight, the Bruins will need to take advantage of her absence.
A win tonight would certainly help set the tone for the remainder of the season for UCLA.
This is your UCLA Women’s Basketball vs. UConn open thread!