It was a roller-coaster game for the Bruins.
UCLA women’s basketball (15-10, 8-5 Pac-12) snapped its six-game winning streak in its 65-51 loss to No. 10 Stanford (20-4, 10-3) on Friday. The Bruins held the Cardinal to under 10 points in both the first and third quarters, but coach Cori Close said UCLA was unable to play consistently.
“We didn’t match the urgency of (Stanford’s) focus,” Close said. “I just wish we executed the game plan I know we’re capable of on a more consistent basis.”
UCLA held Stanford to a season-low eight points on 23.5 percent shooting in the first quarter and took a 13-8 lead heading into the second period. But the Cardinal opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run and closed with a 13-0 run.
The Bruins shot 2-of-16 from the field in the second frame while the Cardinal went 10-of-13 and ended the period with three consecutive 3s.
Close said the defense’s inability to stifle Stanford’s scoring led to UCLA’s offensive troubles.
“(It was a combination of) not getting enough stops so that we can play to (getting) the kind of shots we want,” Close said. “(Also) they wouldn’t have been able to set their 2-3 zone so perfectly and neatly and cleanly if we got stops and (had) gotten out and running.”
UCLA entered halftime trailing Stanford 35-19.
Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere – who led UCLA in scoring with 21 points – opened the second half with an and-one layup, sparking a 17-2 run.
“Just in the locker room, coach (Close) emphasized to us that we have more in us,” Onyenwere said. “She was disappointed with how we played in the first half. I think we knew that too and we gave up 27 points in the second quarter. … That’s just something we don’t pride ourselves on.”
The Bruins chipped away at the 16-point halftime deficit and brought the Cardinal lead within one after a step-back jumper from Onyenwere. But Stanford forward Alanna Smith drained a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, halting UCLA’s comeback opportunity.
“(The 3) was late in the shot clock,” Close said. “We had played pretty good defense for a long period of time. Those are really tough plays – give credit to (Smith). It was a big shot. And yeah, I think that was a real backbreaker. We lost a little momentum at that point and we sort of never got our mojo back.”
The Cardinal iced the Bruins with a 10-0 run following a Stanford timeout at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Kennedy Burke said the changes in momentum hindered UCLA’s offensive tempo throughout the game.
“When we’re playing good defense it leads to good offense,” Burke said. “The fact that we just had those dips – it wasn’t really good for us because we didn’t really have a rhythm on offense, so we just had to change our defense.”
UCLA will face California (14-10, 5-8) for the final time of the regular season Sunday.
Bigger than basketball
The Bruins and the Cardinal represented the Play4Kay initiative of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund for funding cancer research during Friday’s pregame ceremony.
Both teams warmed up in T-shirts supporting the cause and participated in a silent walk around the perimeter of the court, holding signs written with the name of a loved one who has been affected by cancer.
“I asked our team how many players or staff have been directly affected by losing someone to women’s cancer,” Close said. “Almost 90 percent raised their hand.”
Cancer survivors walked out with each player during pregame introductions, including freshman guard Ahlana Smith’s mother and gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field.
Close said she takes Kay Yow’s message to “never let the urgent get in way of the important” to heart.
“As a leader, I want to respond and help our team get better and attack that,” Close said. “But in the big scheme of things, … when you just pause for a second and go, ‘You know what, this (loss to Stanford) hurts our heart, but you know what, cancer hurts a whole lot more people than that.’”