Cori Close said the team’s mentality throughout the past week revolved around two words.
“Fun and focus,” the coach said. “(I told them,) ‘Let’s work on having more fun together, working on plays with each other.’ … I really thought they lived that.”
UCLA women’s basketball (5-5) shot a season-high 52.5 percent against Oklahoma State (7-2) en route to a 71-59 win Sunday to put itself back at .500.
The Bruins blew its lead 40 seconds into the third quarter when the Cowgirls knotted the score at 33. But UCLA held Oklahoma State scoreless for about six minutes and strung together a 14-0 run to give the Bruins a 47-33 advantage – a lead it held for good.
UCLA outscored Oklahoma State 20-7 in the third quarter. Close said the determinant key of the lopsided scoring margin was rebounding after the Bruins outrebounded the Cowgirls 40-23 on the game.
“Rebounding gives us so many more shots on the goal and really demoralizes the other team,” Close said. “If we can continue to hunt for other shots that are high percentage, not only are we going to make more but we are also going to rebound more.”
Redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer notched her first double-double of the season with 12 points and five offensive and five defensive rebounds.
“I get a lot of offensive rebounding, but I could do better defensively,” Drummer said. “So going in, that was my focus – to try to balance it out.”
Senior guard Kennedy Burke led the Bruins with 20 points and went 9-of-14 from the field, including a buzzer-beater layup assisted by sophomore forward Lauryn Miller to end the third period. Burke returned after sitting out the Fresno State game due to an undisclosed injury.
“I was pretty happy (with my game today) because, even though the circumstances for me weren’t that great, I just took it day by day,” Burke said. “I knew I was going to be 100 percent today.”
Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere added 16 points to the Bruins’ score on 6-of-12 shooting. Close said she was pleased with her performance.
“(Onyenwere has) really worked on expanding her toolbox and her game,” Close said. “She’s a consistent outside shooter now. She attacked people off the bounce from the high post today.”
The Bruins had a season-high 50 points in the paint, attributing to 70 percent of their total scoring. Close said UCLA’s success was the result of a total team effort.
“To say that we pounded them in the paint when we don’t really have a true post player – we’re doing that with a lot of guards and a couple forwards,” Close said. “That’s (redshirt freshman guard) Lindsey (Corsaro) getting into the paint as much as it is (Onyenwere) getting points in the paint.”
UCLA will take on Illinois-Chicago with an opportunity to get back to a winning record in its penultimate nonconference game.