Wednesday, March 20

UCLA women’s basketball fails to keep up with Stanford


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Tiffany Cheng


When the UCLA women’s basketball team took on the No. 2-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Jan. 10, they trailed by 16 at halftime.

The Bruins ended up losing that game by four.

Fast-forward to the rematch that took place Thursday night, and the Bruins had a much better first half, this time trailing by only four at the break. But indicative of what UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell believes the Bruins have been unable to do all season, UCLA (14-7, 7-3) was unable to sustain its first half intensity over the course of 40 minutes, and the Bruins came up short against the Cardinal once again, losing 74-53 in Palo Alto.

In the week leading up to Thursday’s game, Caldwell had been preaching to her team the importance of realizing who your go-to players are, pointing specifically to sophomore guard Jasmine Dixon and freshman forward Markel Walker as the two that will play that role for the Bruins.

Well, at least one of those two made an appearance against the Cardinal (20-1, 10-0). Dixon was the only Bruin to score in double-digits, scoring 16 points, and also led the team in rebounding, pulling down nine boards.

“She brings a toughness to our team, and she’s a great competitor,” Caldwell said after Thursday’s loss. “She plays bigger than what she is. If she had a few teammates on board with that mentality, the outcome could have been different. Only one or two players getting after it gets us out of sync.”

However, opposed to Dixon, Walker had one of her worst performances in a big game all season, scoring only four points and grabbing six rebounds. Walker averages more than 11 points and eight rebounds per game. And to put it mildly, Caldwell did not seem pleased with Walker’s effort.

“This team expects her to play at the level not of a freshman,” Caldwell said. “When she pulls no show, we’re going to struggle.”

In the Bruins’ first matchup with the Cardinal, after a lackluster first-half performance, Walker was able to pull things together in the second half, finishing the game with 10 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes. But unfortunately for her, and for UCLA, it seemed as if the freshman was unable to get on track Thursday and help the Bruins pull off an upset.

Regardless, there was no lack of outstanding performances from go-to players on Stanford’s end, as center Jayne Appel scored a season-high 23 points and 13 rebounds, to go along with three blocks in 32 minutes.

However, Appel was ejected from the game after throwing an elbow that landed in the face of Dixon late in the second half. In addition, Cardinal forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike dropped in 15 points and snatched seven rebounds, and guard Rosalyn Gold-Onwude notched 14 points.

“I thought Stanford did a good job of establishing their go-to players,” Caldwell said. “Ogwumike and Appel were the big differences in them making their run.”

But it seemed as if the run that Caldwell referred to lasted the entire second half, as Stanford outscored the Bruins 38-21, and held UCLA to an abysmal 27 percent shooting in the second half.

“What changed was shot selection,” Caldwell said. “I thought we had poor shot selection from our guards. They have to allow the offense to work for them. When their shot isn’t falling, this team has a tendency to let it dictate how they play. If they continue to do that, they’re going to have to learn the hard way, and the hard way is a loss.”

Next up for the Bruins is a trip to Berkeley Saturday afternoon to take on Cal (12-9, 6-4), who defeated USC 61-55 Thursday night.

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