Sunday, August 18

UCLA beats Cal, takes 2nd in Pac-10

Senior guard Erica Tukiainen and the Bruins held the California Golden Bears to 32 points during UCLA's 44-32 win Saturday at Haas Pavilion.

Senior guard Erica Tukiainen and the Bruins held the California Golden Bears to 32 points during UCLA's 44-32 win Saturday at Haas Pavilion. Tiffany Cheng

The UCLA women’s basketball team could not afford another letdown Saturday against California.

With a 21-point defeat at the hands of No. 2 Stanford on Thursday night, a game in which the Bruins only trailed by four at halftime, still fresh in their memories, the Bruins needed a win to avoid the weekend sweep and falling into a three-way tie with USC and Cal for second place in the conference.

Apparently the Bruins don’t believe in ties.

In what was a sloppy outing for both UCLA and Cal, the Bruins knocked off the Bears in Berkeley, 44-32, in what was a critical game regarding Pac-10 standings. The Bruins now sit in sole possession of second place in the conference, which could prove to be vital come Pac-10 tournament time.

“When you’re trying to position yourself in the Pac-10, every win matters,” UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said after her team’s win. “We’re just looking to get some wins on the road.”

In a game that was predicated on defense and turnovers, the Bruins were able to get the job done despite their inability to execute offensively.

After the Bears came out of the gate fast, scoring the game’s first eight points, they were held scoreless for the rest of the half ““ more than 11 minutes ““ as the Bruins went into the break with a 14-8 advantage.

But the stagnant offense did not stop there. Although each team increased in the points department in the second half, there was no increase in offensive efficiency.

UCLA shot only 27.5 percent from the field, while Cal only converted on 21.7 percent of its field goal attempts.

Combined, the Bruins and the Bears only made 24 shots in 40 minutes, a number easily exceeded by the 38 combined turnovers committed in the game.

“Our offense didn’t do what it needed to do today, so we fell back on our defense,” Caldwell said. “We were missing some shots, but I credit Cal for being very scrappy.”

Senior guard Erica Tukiainen said most of the giveaways, 18 of which were by the Bruins, were due to the intensity shown by each team on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think it was definitely defense,” Tukiainen said. “Both teams came with lots of pressure on the guards and the post game. But that’s what happens when you get into second round of Pac-10. I mean, part of it was turnovers, but mostly defensive pressure.”

Leading the way for the Bruins on the offensive end were junior guard Doreena Campbell and junior forward Nina Earl, each scoring nine points. For Cal, it was senior guard and Pac-10 scoring leader Alexis Gray-Lawson leading the way with 11.

Caldwell and Tukiainen agree that the most important statistics are wins and losses.

“I just felt like in the second half of that Stanford game, we didn’t do what we needed to do,” Caldwell said. “But I’m proud of them for bouncing back and winning.”

“This is a crucial step in our own play, so we’re not even looking at other teams and standings,” Tukiainen added. “For us mentally, we have had some big games we couldn’t finish off, and finally, we get this Cal game. After a tough loss against Stanford, it shows we’re maturing.”

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