Thursday, December 13

Women’s basketball avenges last year’s losses, sweeps Washington teams


UCLA women's basketball came back from a 10-point deficit Sunday afternoon to down Washington State. Senior forward Monique Billings chipped in 15 points and 15 rebounds en route to the victory. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA women's basketball came back from a 10-point deficit Sunday afternoon to down Washington State. Senior forward Monique Billings chipped in 15 points and 15 rebounds en route to the victory. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)


After coming back empty-handed from Washington last year, the Bruins were able to get their second consecutive road sweep of the season this time.

No. 9 UCLA women’s basketball (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) is currently riding their longest winning streak of the year with six games in a row. These last two wins place the Bruins just one game behind the No. 7 Oregon Ducks (20-3, 9-1) in the Pac-12 conference standings.

Despite the team’s winning streak, statistically, the Bruins have been playing right around their season averages with 77.2 points on 41.5 percent shooting, 46 rebounds and 14.5 assists per game.

However, intangibles such as aggression and communication have been on full display as seen in Friday’s 19-0 run in the fourth quarter to seal the game. Junior guard Japreece Dean capped off the run by hitting a 3-pointer, which tied her season-high with five makes.

“We just communicated as a team and just took pride in defense and got on to each other about getting onto the 3-point line,” Dean said. “We just got on each other and took pride and got down on a stance and guarded on our own.”

In Sunday’s win, the Bruins were down early and trailed in multiple categories such as field goal percentage, assists and steals. However, coach Cori Close recognized the aggression that kept her team in the game.

“I definitely think our aggression level is what made us make a comeback,” Close said. “When we started making some defensive plays and I think it’s a big testament to when you don’t shoot well you got something to anchor you.”

Aggression and defense haven’t been the only anchors in the Bruins’ six-game winning streak. They have the ability to get second-chance points through their offensive rebounding, where 39.5 percent of their boards are from the offensive glass.

The team’s leading rebounder is senior forward Monique Billings who also leads the Pac-12 in rebounds with 9.6 per game. Billings – who remembered last year’s losses – dropped 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, which gave the senior her 10th double-double of the season in Sunday’s win.

“It feels really good, feels like we accomplished our focus for the weekend,” Billings said. “We can take a breath for a day and then we just got to refocus so we can get another sweep.”

The team is also led by senior guard Jordin Canada who was awarded Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week. Over the last two games, she has had averages of 20.5 points on 51.7 percent shooting, 8 assists and 4 steals. Canada also became the fifth player in Pac-12 history to have more than 300 steals.

The Bruins will host Los Angeles rivals the USC Trojans on Friday night in Pauley Pavilion.

 

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