The Bruins have experience with games coming down to the wire.
UCLA women’s basketball (11-9, 4-4 Pac-12) defeated No. 16 Arizona State (14-6, 5-4) on Friday and Arizona (14-6, 4-5) on Sunday. The matchup against the Sun Devils was decided within the final nine seconds, and the battle with the Wildcats reached triple overtime.
The Bruins have had nine contests this season decided by six points or fewer.
Unlike some of their previous close games, UCLA came out on top in both contests this weekend.
“Getting these two (wins) is just huge in our conference,” said coach Cori Close. “It’s hard to describe to people unless you’re coaching or playing in it how competitive every team is.”
UCLA is experienced in fourth-quarter scrambles, losing in tight matchups to Kentucky, Indiana and Stanford earlier in the season.
Senior guard Japreece Dean said that remaining calm was the key to the Bruins’ success in the contest against the Sun Devils. The guard got the game-winning shot in the final nine seconds of the game for the 61-59 upset win over Arizona State.
“I think regardless of what happened in the game, we stayed steady and poised in the moment,” Dean said. “We have great leaders on our team to help us do that.”
Sophomore forward Lauryn Miller and redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer each recorded individual career highs this weekend. Miller posted a career-high 17 points against Arizona State, more points than her performances in UCLA’s previous six games combined.
Drummer logged a career-high 17 rebounds against Arizona. The forward had recorded her 10th double-digit rebounding effort this season and 23rd for her career. Drummer is averaging 9.5 rebounds per game – good for third in the Pac-12.
Close said that mental toughness and discipline is what allowed UCLA to sustain the 55-minute battle against Arizona on Sunday.
“It was about guts and willpower,” Close said. “You have paid the price to put yourself mentally in this situation, and you have to draw on that right now. But honestly, it wasn’t an X-and-O battle, it was will and hustle that was going to win the game.”
After getting its first weekend sweep in Pac-12 play, UCLA will return home to face Washington State (7-13, 2-7) on Friday for an opportunity to keep the momentum alive.
“We know it’s a great conference,” said sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere. “So just to get these two wins secured under our belt and to see our upward trajectory is really nice.”