It has been a week without many answers for UCLA women’s basketball.
The Bruins (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) lost back-to-back games over the past weekend to Washington State and Washington, the first time since the 2014-2015 season they have lost consecutive games on a road trip.
“Washington State was the first time all year, for this team, that I didn’t think we came ready to play,” said coach Cori Close. “We have to figure out why was that. Did we underestimate them? I don’t know what the reason is; we got to learn every time so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Close thought that the loss on Sunday to the highly ranked Washington team was more tactical than mental. It likely did not hurt the team in the rankings as much as the loss to Washington State, as No. 8 Washington has been regarded as one of the top teams in the country whereas Washington State was unranked.
“(The team) learned that we need to prepare the same way every single game, no matter who we’re playing,” said junior forward Monique Billings.
The Bruins came into the weekend ranked No. 9 in the nation. After the two losses, they currently sit at No. 17.
The team is hoping not to lose its competitive edge despite the losses.
“We came off of a bad weekend; we weren’t focused,” said sophomore guard Kennedy Burke. “(Practice) was tough. Almost all of our drills were about toughness and mental focus.”
Lajahna Drummer returns to the team
UCLA will benefit from the return of junior forward Lajahna Drummer, who played for the first time this season against Washington State.
Drummer’s rebounding ability may be key for the Bruins later in the season, as the team was outrebounded by the Huskies on Sunday. She averaged five and a half rebounds per game last season.
“We need her in the post,” Billings said. “We’re really happy to have her back and to have her healthy.”
Drummer, who played significant minutes last year and started during the NCAA Tournament, will give the Bruins added depth in the front court. The team starts four guards and plays long stretches with only one forward in the game, a contrast from its style of play last year when the team predominantly played with two post players at a time.
Still, Drummer didn’t play more than 11 minutes during either game against Washington or Washington State.
“Right now she’s day to day,” Close said. “When you come back from any of those injuries you’re really just taking it gradually.”