Michaela Onyenwere said the Bruins’ next matchup will be a rebounding battle.
“(Colorado is) a really good offensive rebounding team,” said the sophomore forward. “(I) know that that’s one of their strengths.”
UCLA women’s basketball (13-9, 6-4 Pac-12) will travel to Colorado (10-11, 0-10) on Friday and No. 17 Utah (18-3, 7-3) on Sunday with the opportunity to extend a four-game win streak.
The Bruins top the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding with 17.9 boards per game. Colorado is second behind UCLA with 14.2.
Onyenwere said the Bruins will have to be aggressive in the paint if they want to dominate the rebounding battle against the Buffaloes.
“(We have to be) thinking ahead and doing early work in the post,” Onyenwere said. “(We’ll) have all five people fighting a body and trying to box out.”
Onyenwere pulls down the second-most rebounds for UCLA, averaging 8.4 per game. The forward is also shooting a team-high 36.1 percent from 3-point range.
The Bruins have shot above 35 percent from beyond the arc in three of their last four games. UCLA went 6-of-9 from deep in its most recent game against Washington, with redshirt freshman guard Lindsey Corsaro hitting 3-of-4 against the Huskies.
“We’re shooting (3s) more in rhythm,” said coach Cori Close. “I think also (Corsaro’s) being more aggressive. She’s a good shooter and we’re really looking for her to do that for us.”
The Buffaloes allow their opponents to shoot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc – the second highest in the conference.
Senior guard Kennedy Burke said UCLA has to control itself when it shoots from deep given the opportunity to take long shots against Colorado.
“The most important thing is to not force to shoot 3s,” Burke said. “We just have to have ball movement and then it will lead to a good shot, like an extra pass to a 3-point shot.”
The Buffaloes – averaging 29.4 percent from deep – have the third lowest 3-point shooting percentage in the Pac-12. Colorado also has the second-worst field goal percentage in the Pac-12 in conference play.
Burke said the Bruins have to play smart defense if they want to prevent the Buffaloes from scoring.
“When a person drives, we all have to have at least some type of help side and we have to scramble back on (defense),” Burke said. “Talking and staying focused on (defense) will help us win the game.”
On Sunday, UCLA will travel to Utah to play at Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Utes shoot 38.5 percent from deep – the third-highest 3-point shooting percentage in the conference. The 3-pointers account for 32 percent of Utah’s points.
“(We) have to chase them off the 3-point line,” Close said. “We’re going to mix up our defenses and do that in a variety of different ways.”
Utah is coming off a 71-63 loss against Oregon State. The Utes shot 36 percent from behind the arc – 11 percent higher than when the Bruins lost to the Beavers.
Close said UCLA can defeat Utah if it can keep control of the ball.
“We play to our strengths (by) getting more shots on goal than our opponents,” Close said. “We just have to have a really concerted effort to value the ball.”