Despite skipping morning shootaround and being delayed two hours by traffic, the Bruins were able to hand the Fordham Rams their first loss at home since the season began.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (9-2) continued its five-game road trip with a defensive showcase against Fordham (7-4), which it won 67-30. It was the first time this season UCLA held its opponent under 40 points and was the lowest score a Bruin team has held an opponent to since 1980.
“We needed to step up defensively and guard as a team better,” said freshman guard Chantel Horvat. “We really locked in for that tonight and I think we did a much better job than against Seton Hall.”
UCLA held Fordham to just four points in the second quarter, when it also broke out a 10-0 run to end the half. The run was capped off by a steal from senior guard Jordin Canada, which led to a coast-to-coast finish on the other end to beat the buzzer.
The Bruins, who normally average 43.3 rebounds a game, had 51 rebounds against the Rams, the second-highest total this season. Coach Cori Close credited the game’s pace, which gave her players more space to grab rebounds.
“We sped them up so much they were not able to get in a rhythm in their shots. … They were playing faster than they wanted to play,” Close said. “That made us be able to create more space and be able to run down rebounds so we’re not in this just fire-out, box-out mode.”
Fordham forward G’mrice Davis, who is the nation’s third-leading rebounder with 13.4 rebounds per game, was held to just eight. Senior forward Monique Billings outrebounded her while obtaining her fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bruins continued their dominance on the defensive end in the second half, only allowing five points in the third quarter. However, with about six minutes left of play in the fourth quarter and the Bruins holding a 39-point lead, the Rams hit back-to-back 3s, forcing Close to use a 30-second timeout.
“It showed a lack of focus, and I think they have to understand how urgent every single possession is,” Close said. “Every game in the Pac-12 is so contested and every game plan is so distinct … (that) if you lose focus for just two possessions, that could be the game.”
Fordham was UCLA’s last nonconference opponent before the beginning of Pac-12 play. Billings, the Bruins leading scorer and rebounder, said the team still has much to improve on in the meantime.
“Our cohesiveness as a team—we’re still working on our chemistry on the court, so just bringing all the pieces together,” Billings said. “(We need to) keep being aggressive. … We had some really great starts to our game the last few games so we just need to come out with that energy and fire for conference play.”
UCLA will have eight days to rest before it plays its first Pac-12 conference game against Stanford (6-5) on Dec. 29 at Maples Pavilion.