Despite a slow start, the Bruins were able to continue their longest winning streak of the season with aggressive rebounding and defense.
In another road sweep, No. 13 UCLA women’s basketball (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) secured a 79-71 victory over Washington State on Sunday (9-13, 2-8). After losing last year’s January matchup, senior forward Monique Billings wanted to avenge that loss with a win today.
“I had a chip on my shoulder from last year, we came here and didn’t handle business, so I knew I wanted a different outcome tonight,” Billings said. “That’s why my team was fired up. That got me fired up and we got rolling.”
In the first quarter, Billings came out aggressive, but found herself in early foul trouble. The Bruins trailed by seven after the first quarter and missed their last seven attempts of the period while surrendering an 11-0 run.
However, that was the largest lead Washington State saw, as UCLA’s defense began to pick things up.
“We were able to make adjustments based on their line-ups … to be able to play pressure player to player and then to be effective on our zone,” said coach Cori Close. “We want to be a team that plays both our defenses both zone and player to player at a really high level and we really believe that’s our anchor.”
The Bruins’ defense wasn’t the only factor in the win, as they were able to grab 51 rebounds to surpass the 50-rebound threshold for the fourth time this season. Redshirt junior forward Lajahna Drummer and Billings both posted double-doubles and combined for 29 total rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds.
“(WSU foward Kayla Washington) was really aggressive to box out,” Drummer said. “We just had that mindset of trying to not let (WSU) get the boards and try to crash every time and have my teammates back.”
UCLA shot 42.4 percent from the field and had 15 turnovers to just nine assists. Close credited Washington State’s defensive ability while also blaming her team’s ball movement.
“In the past we’ve been able to go inside more, but they did a nice job half around and forced us to move the ball side to side more,” Close said. “I just think we were not as crisp as we needed to be … because we end having to take harder shots.”
The Bruins will attempt to continue their winning streak when they face their crosstown rival USC Trojans (15-6, 5-6) on Friday night in Pauley Pavilion.