There was more than one UCLA basketball game this weekend.
Though the women didn’t beat the No. 1 team in the country like the men, the No. 9 women’s basketball team’s 72-49 win over Hawai’i (2-6) was a telling one.
Freshman guard Lindsey Corsaro played for the Bruins (6-1) for the first time after being hurt for the initial part of the season. She was committed to Kentucky, the men’s opponent, and the timing of her season opener seemed like a bit of salt in the wound.
Rather, it was a display of the renewed depth to a team with big aspirations, as UCLA trounced Hawai’i seemingly from the jump.
Junior forward Monique Billings started off the game by scoring 12 points in the first quarter, her go-to turnaround jumper in full effect.
It gave the Bruins a 21-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, which they never relinquished.
“It’s just the focus (that matters),” Billings said. “(It’s about) having the will to dominate and taking every possession, … just being tough every single possession.”
The Bruins’ depth enabled them to play aggressive defense and smother the Rainbow Wahine every time they touched the ball. Hawai’i’s three first-quarter points were the fewest UCLA had ever given up in a quarter.
From there, the Bruins were able to showcase different lineups. The team had 11 players play in the first half, nine of which scored.
“You gotta be ready when your number is called,” said coach Cori Close. “You have to figure out one of two things: How you’re going to raise the level of the team with your individual contribution, or how the team’s efficiency is different because you’re out there.”
Though the team’s offense lagged in the second half as they got outscored 27-32, there were still redeeming aspects to the performance. Six different players hit 3-pointers and junior guard Jordin Canada had another stat-sheet-filling game, scoring 13 points with seven rebounds and seven assists.
One of those assists was to redshirt senior guard Nicole Kornet, who came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer as the first half expired, part of her 10-point performance.
She danced her way to the bench as the team went into halftime up 28.
“Jordin was just dribbling up and they had two defenders sink on her, and so she kicked it out to me and I was open and had to let it fly,” Kornet said. “It went in, it was fun, and it was a good way to end the half.”
The team cut practice short the day before. After hearing that the men were up in the second half, the team ended practice so they could huddle together in the nutrition room and watch the game.
“We actually just finished practice and I wanted to go out there and practice again,” Kornet said. “Hopefully our play inspires them and vice versa. It’s just a lot of fun to be a Bruin.”
Hawai’i was far from being the No. 1 team in the country, but the women proved that there was more than one way to make a statement.