Tonight, the UCLA Women’s Basketball team plays in their third straight Sweet 16. With a win tonight, Cori Close can achieve something tonight that Steve Alford has never done in his entire coaching career. Close has already managed to surpass Alford in consecutive Sweet 16s, since Alford has never been able to more than two Sweet 16s in a row.
While this year’s women’s basketball team showed signs of inconsistency early in the year, they have gotten better as the season progressed. Now, it’s time for them to get over the hump and get to the Elite Eight.
Unfortunately, the team standing in their way is the 2-seed Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns are a quality basketball team, which defeated UCLA in the Sweet 16 two years ago in the Bridgeport Regional.
For UCLA, the question is “Who will be the next Bruin to step up when they need it?” as there seems to be someone different having a big game so far in the tournament. It could be one of the senior trio of Jordin Canada, Kelli Hayes and Monique Billings, who carried the Bruins in the Second Round game against Creighton or it could be someone else like Lajahna Drummer or Kennedy Burke. We’ll find out tonight.
For Texas, they have a pair of dangerous seniors in Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty, but the Longhorns also have a junior named Olamide Aborowa who came up big against Arizona State last weekend. Aborowa doesn’t play many minutes. She’s averaging just 9.5 minutes per game this season, but she played 11 minutes and scored 9 points while grabbing 7 rebounds against the Sun Devils.
After the Second Round game against Arizona State, Texas coach Karen Aston credited Aborowa with helping the team get to the Sweet 16.
Atkins and McCarty are the team’s top two scorers averaging 14.8 and 13.7 ppg, respectively. The Longhorns also have a pair of juniors in guard Lashaan Higgs and forward Jatarie White who are also both averaging in double figures in points.
The key to a Bruin win tonight might be on the boards. Texas ranks second nationally in rebound margin with a +11.4 and they have outrebounded their opponents in 29 of their 34 games. If UCLA can manage to control the boards, they should be able to win the game. If they can’t, they may have a tough time beating Texas.
Tonight, the teams meet in Kansas City, which is known for its slaughterhouses and its barbecue. Let’s hope that the Bruins smoke the Longhorns low and slow tonight.
This is your UCLA Bruins vs. Texas Longhorns Sweet 16 open thread.