Well, at least one UCLA basketball team was able to take care of business in their first game this week. That’s what happened this afternoon when the Bruins women’s basketball team defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Bruins now move on to face the winner of this afternoon’s quarterfinal between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona Wildcats.
UCLA never trailed in this one. Michaela Onyenwere got the Bruins on the board first with a layup just sixteen seconds into the game and, after the Sun Devils managed to tie the game twice in the first minute and a half, they took control of the game for its entirety. UCLA managed to open up a double-digit lead pretty quickly. Over about four and a half minutes in the middle of the first quarter, the Bruins went on a 16-4 run to take a twelve-point lead, even though Arizona State managed to trim that lead back down to eight points, 22-14, at the end of the first.
The Bruins used the second quarter to extend their lead and, with 4:49 left in the half, UCLA had increased it to 15 points, 37-22. By the time the half had ended, ASU had cut the Bruin lead back to ten points as UCLA went into the locker room up 41-31.
But the Sun Devils didn’t just give up.
Onyenwere scored the first four points of the half for the Bruins on a pair of free throws and a jumper, but UCLA went on a four and a half minute scoring drought which allowed Arizona State to climb back into the game with a 14-0 run that cut UCLA’s lead to just a point. It was the first of five times in the third quarter that ASU would trail by a point, but, each time they cut it to one, the Bruins responded.
First, it was Kennedy Burke with a layup that gave UCLA a three-point lead. Later, it was Japreece Dean hitting a pair of free throws to do the same thing. Then, Burke hit a pair of free throws and, again, it was Dean with a layup with 39 seconds left. ASU’s Sophia Elenga made a layup with 21 seconds left in the third to send the game into the fourth quarter with the score UCLA, 57, ASU 56.
But, even in the fourth, the Bruins weren’t going to roll over for the Sun Devils. UCLA started the final quarter with a 6-0 run and Arizona State wouldn’t get any closer than three points down the rest of the game.
If there was one thing that won this game for UCLA, it was the Bruins’ free throw shooting and, if you want to narrow it down further, it was their free throw shooting in the first half. Overall, UCLA was 21 of 27 from the stripe and they were 9 of 10 from the stripe in the first half. It’s something the men’s team might want to take note of.
What is a little more troublesome is the way UCLA’s free throw shooting trailed off down the stretch. The Bruins were just 4 of 8 from the line in the fourth quarter. In the end, those four made free throws in the fourth proved to be the difference. In fact, UCLA had their four missed free throws all occur in the final 23 seconds. That’s cutting things a little too close if you ask me.
Dean led all scorers with 24 points while Onyenwere added 20 points. Burke had 15 while Lajahna Drummer scored 10.
The Bruins will now play the winner of this afternoon’s quarterfinal between Oregon and Arizona tomorrow at 6 pm PT.