Tuesday, October 24

UCLA women’s basketball boost record with win over Oregon State

Led by Walker and Dixon, basketball squad dominates Beavers despite moderate intensity

One down, three to go.

Heading into Thursday night’s game with the Oregon State Beavers, the first of a critical four-game stretch heading into the Pac-10 tournament, the UCLA women’s basketball team was looking to continue its four-game winning streak and in the process, bolster its resume for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Well, the Bruins certainly accomplished what they set out to do, as UCLA dominated the Beavers (9-17, 1-14) from start to finish en route to a 74-53 win in Corvallis, the Bruins’ fifth consecutive victory and ninth win in their past 10 contests.

Leading the way for the Bruins (19-7, 12-3), who jumped out to a 14-point lead midway through the first half and held a 22-point lead at halftime, was freshman forward Markel Walker, who scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Jasmine Dixon also scored 17 points for UCLA, and the duo of Walker and Dixon shot an impressive 17-for-23 from the field.

“I thought we came out of the gates strong, and defensively, our pressure was there,” UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said after Thursday’s victory. “I thought (Markel) Walker really set the tempo for us, and Jasmine (Dixon) did as well.”

One area that Caldwell has been stressing improvement in is the turnover department. The Bruins accumulated a whopping 36 giveaways in their win over Washington State on Saturday, much to Caldwell’s dismay. But against the Beavers, UCLA only committed 15 turnovers while forcing 26 by OSU.

Caldwell said much of the credit for the fewer turnovers against OSU belongs to junior guard Darxia Morris, who dished out 10 assists and had not a single turnover, while pacing UCLA’s offensive attack.

“Darxia Morris did a great job of leading the attack,” Caldwell said. “She had 10 assists tonight, so I’m very pleased with us establishing our inside and our outside attack.

Despite the Bruins’ dominating performance, Caldwell, who has been preaching to her team the importance of bringing the intensity for an entire 40 minutes, said that her team fell short of playing for 40 minutes once again.

“No, I don’t,” Caldwell said when asked if she thought the Bruins had put together a 40-minute performance against the Beavers. “I thought we went to our bench and got some subs, and there was a letdown in our intensity.”

But overall, the most important aspect of Thursday’s victory was the fact that UCLA was able to pick up another road win, which gives the Bruins valuable experience heading into the postseason, Caldwell said, and improves their NCAA Tournament resume.

“We had some tough non-conference road games, and even though we didn’t win them, they taught us how to be competitive on the road,” Caldwell said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to instill all season, that no matter who you play or where you play, there’s certain aspects of the game that shouldn’t change.”

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