This afternoon, the undefeated UCLA women’s basketball team returns home to begin Pac-12 conference play against crosstown rival Southern Cal at 1 pm PT. Today’s game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks Los Angeles.
Last Time Out
Last Sunday, the Bruins beat the Indiana Hoosiers 68-58. While Indiana scored the first basket of the game, UCLA came right back to tie the score 2-2 before the Hoosiers re-took the lead, 4-2. That was Indiana’s final lead of the game. The Bruins closed the first quarter with a 13-0 run and UCLA led 15-4 heading into the second quarter.
Japreece Dean began the second quarter the way the Bruins ended the first when she hit a three-pointer to stretch UCLA’s run to 16-0. In the final eight minutes of the half, Indiana outscored the Bruins 15-7 and cut UCLA’s lead to 25-19 at the break.
UCLA scored the first five points of the third quarter on a layup by Michaela Onyenwere and another Dean three-pointer. That gave the Bruins a double-digit lead again as UCLA led by 11, 30-19. Over the next five and a half minutes, the Hoosiers chipped away at that lead and managed to make it a one possession games with UCLA leading 34-31. With 1:31 left in the quarter, the Hoosiers had the lead down to just two points, 37-35, and again with 1:05 to go 39-37. In the final minute of the quarter, the Bruins extended their lead to five points, 43-38.
The Hoosiers kept chipping away, though, as the fourth quarter began. With 7:49 to go, UCLA’s lead was down to just a point, 46-45. That would be as close as Indiana got, however. The Bruins scored five of the next six points to stretch their lead to 51-46. Indiana got it back to a one possession game three more times, but a three-pointer by Charisma Osborne with 3:48 to go was followed by a jumper by Dean extended UCLA’s lead to eight. Dean used a pair of free throws to stretch UCLA’s lead to ten, 64-54, and the Bruins finished up with a 68-58 victory to complete their non-conference schedule undefeated.
Southern Cal Trojans
Like UCLA, the Trojans played very well in non-conference play. The difference is that the Trojans had a rough three-game losing streak from mid-to-late November while the Bruins have yet to lose.
Among common opponents, both the Bruins and Trojans defeated Virginia, Cal State Northridge, and Long Beach State, though the Bruins had a wider margin of victory against UVa and LBSU.
That sets up today’s game as what will likely be a battle.
Mark Trakh’s squad will rely on three newcomers to lead the Trojans this afternoon. Graduate transfer Stefanie Watts is one of three Trojans averaging more than 10 points per game. Watts is third on the team with an average of 10.3 ppg. Freshman guard Endiya Rogers leads the team with 11.4 ppg while freshman forward Alissa Pili is averaging 11.0 ppg.
While Watts has only played in four games so far this season due to injury, she is expected to return to the lineup for today’s game. Pili leads the team in rebounds with an average of 8.1 per game.
Sophomore guard Desiree Campbell leads the team in assists with an average of 3.8 per game.
Expect today’s game to be a battle, but UCLA is very tough to beat at home. So, I expect the Bruins to come out ahead this afternoon.