The UCLA women’s basketball team caught a break Thursday night.
UCLA came into Thursday night’s contest against Washington State looking to secure its fourth-place standing in the Pac-12.
The Cougars had different plans for the Bruins on Thursday, defeating UCLA 76-65 in Pullman, Wash. But Washington State did not get the satisfaction of playing spoiler to UCLA’s postseason hopes thanks to a loss by Oregon State against Utah.
UCLA (14-14, 9-8 Pac-12) remains in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference. The third team with a 9-8 record is Arizona State, who will play Arizona on Saturday.
Luck may have been on the Bruins’ side against the Cougars but for coach Cori Close, that could not hide the fact that the team’s performance on the court was lackluster from the start.
The Cougars scored the first 10 points of Thursday’s game and never trailed after building that lead. UCLA was sloppy on offense, committing 27 turnovers compared to only eight assists.
“We weren’t prepared mentally or emotionally before the game started,” Close said. “Excellence isn’t something you can turn on, you have to be that all the time or you can just hope. … We were not excellent in how hard we played.”
More than UCLA’s inability to produce on offense, senior guard Rebekah Gardner felt that the Bruins did not give a complete effort on defense against Washington State. The Bruins have struggled with rebounding all season and this game was no different.
“Our defense wasn’t where it needed to be, they did a lot of rebounding,” she said. “We had a bad first half, but we were coming back in the second. We just needed to make an adjustment and we didn’t make it fast enough.”
After Thursday’s loss, a victory against Washington on Saturday is a must.
“I think we have to stay focused and work on rebounding,” junior guard/forward Markel Walker said. “When we play Washington, we just have to control what we can control.”