Every week, coach Cori Close has her players make “commitment cards” that allow them to hone in an objective such as sleeping at least nine hours a night and offensive rebounding, among other goals that have collectively come together and helped the No. 15 UCLA women’s basketball team to an 18-5 overall record and 9-3 Pac-12 record, including its most recent 85-76 road win against No. 8 Stanford.
The Bruins were in need of a bounce-back game following a narrow 80-77 road loss to the unranked Bears – and a big game was what they got.
Prior to the upset, UCLA had dropped 16 straight road games against ranked teams. The win against Stanford not only improved its road record on the season to 4-5, but also marked its first win at Maples Pavilion since 1999.
“A lot of great momentum,” assistant coach Jenny Huth said of the win. “We had a really tough loss at Cal and for us to come back and regroup and be collected … (it’s) just an example of our team’s understanding of perseverance.”
UCLA junior guard Jordin Canada recorded 25 points to bring her double-figure scoring streak to 29 – a record dating back to last season.
“That’s just going to carry us over into March and help us in the Pac-12 tournament and NCAA Tournament,” Canada said.
And while the win certainly provided the team with a huge confidence boost, it also raised issues for the Bruins – like foul trouble.
Despite the Bruins’ effectiveness on the defensive side of the court in both their single-man and 2-3 zone coverage, foul trouble has given the team several problems, namely with their rotation.
The team had six of its eight players tally at least three fouls against Stanford, with starting junior guard Kelli Hayes fouling out midway through the second half. Canada’s fourth foul midway through the fourth quarter also placed Close in a dilemma with her team’s floor general.
“It’s part of the game. In your mind, you hope it doesn’t happen and you try and teach them through it,” Close said. “But also, it’s my job to be adaptable and for our team to be adaptable. You got be able to pivot even when the circumstances aren’t ideal.”
Still, under such situations, the team was able to call upon their bench to contribute and help pull out the eventual win.
The team’s success on defense also translated to their offensive firepower, where they netted 45 percent of their 3-point attempts, an area that the team had struggled to find their range from in previous games.
Senior guard Kari Korver connected on five of her seven attempts from downtown for her 17 points against Stanford.
UCLA ranks second in the conference in steals per game and turnover margin, with 10.70 and +5.59 respectively. That edge has helped the team put up an average of 75.4 points per game, playing at a level of intensity that Close has been encouraging the entire season.
Against Stanford, the team was able to use that defensive pressure to produce extra offensive possessions for themselves, going 44.3 percent from the field and improving their record to 13-0 when shooting at least 40 percent.
The Bruins’ next challenge will be during their Oregon road trip where they will look to sweep the season series against both Oregon and Oregon State.