The Bruins will enter their final weekend of the regular season.
No. 25 UCLA women’s basketball (17-11, 10-6 Pac-12) will face Utah (20-7, 9-7) on Friday and Colorado (12-15, 2-14) on Sunday for Senior Day. Starting senior guards Kennedy Burke and Japreece Dean and redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer will play their final two games at Pauley Pavilion this weekend.
“I’m just grateful that I got to spend these four years with this group of people, and it is an experience that I will never forget,” Burke said. “I just love being a Bruin.”
Coach Cori Close said she expects the team to perform well this weekend for the seniors.
“My entire focus this weekend is this is the last regular season weekend for us to get better,” Close said. “It is also the last time that our seniors ever get to play in Pauley, so you better honor them with that.”
The Bruins have not lost to the Utes since Dec. 1, 2001. The last time UCLA faced then-No.17 Utah on Feb. 10, the Bruins were down by as many as seven points in the second quarter, but an 11-0 run that started late in the third quarter put UCLA on top for the remainder of the contest.
The Bruins logged 40 points in the fourth quarter – a school record for the most points recorded in a single period – to secure a 100-90 victory.
Redshirt freshman guard Lindsey Corsaro said UCLA is relying on strong defensive performances to prevent Utah from having another dominant start.
“They got off to an early start,” Corsaro said. “We struggled defensively in the first half – especially stopping them in transition – so that is going to be huge for us.”
Despite shooting 73.33 percent in the fourth quarter, the Bruins allowed Utes forward Megan Huff to log a double-double on the night, tying her career-high 13 rebounds to complement 23 points.
Huff leads Utah in points per game and has scored in double-digits in all but one contest this season, including a 25-point performance in Utah’s last outing against Washington State.
Burke said UCLA will have to communicate effectively on defense to limit Huff’s opportunities.
“The most important thing is to talk on defense,” Burke said. “(Huff) is either going to drive or shoot the basket because (she) is good at both. So, we just have to be aware and communicate with each other.”
UCLA will close out the season against Colorado.
Similar to its start against the Utes, the Bruins trailed the Buffaloes early in the game earlier this season, facing a 20-11 deficit going into the second quarter. But UCLA gained momentum in the second quarter, outscoring Colorado 20-11 to tie the game at 31 going into the half.
UCLA held Colorado to shooting under 30 percent from the field in the second half, securing a 64-60 comeback victory.
Corsaro said this weekend’s games will reveal how much the Bruins have improved in the past month.
“(Utah and Colorado) are both really good teams,” Corsaro said. “So, it is going to be a test of our focus and to see how much we have grown since we played them last time because those were really competitive games.”
UCLA will have the opportunity to finish out the season on a pair of wins this weekend when they face Utah at 7 p.m on Friday and Colorado at 12 p.m. on Sunday in the seniors’ last home-court outing.