The seniors and their families teared up as coach Cori Close met them on the court with flowers.
“It was very emotional today because I’ve been through a lot in this program,” said senior guard Kennedy Burke. “They built me into the woman I am today and basketball player I am today.”
No. 25 UCLA women’s basketball (19-11, 12-6 Pac-12) celebrated Senior Day with an 84-50 blowout over Colorado (12-17, 2-16) to close the regular season at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
Burke – along with redshirt senior guard Chrissy Baird, senior guard Japreece Dean and redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer – played what will most likely be their final game at home.
“Our team wanted to honor them,” Close said. “I was really pleased with their commitment to doing that and for making this a special day for these four young ladies.”
Today marked Baird’s first career start. The guard played the second-most minutes she’s played all season.
The Bruins outscored the Buffaloes in every quarter and held their opponent to a 27.6 field goal percentage.
UCLA limited Colorado to five points in the first quarter. The Buffaloes shot just over 8 percent in the period and made only one field goal. Sunday marks the third time this season UCLA has held its opponent to shooting below 30 percent.
“We just made that next pass really difficult,” Close said. “Our ability, our versatility to be able to switch all those screens and stay in the passing lanes, that was the huge key.”
UCLA forced 21 Colorado turnovers – nine of which came in the first quarter – and converted those takeaways into 25 points.
The Bruins also registered nine steals. Burke logged four and was responsible for three of UCLA’s five blocks.
The Bruins entered the second half with a 35-21 lead. Six of UCLA’s eight field goals in the third quarter were assisted. Dean – who ranks third in the conference in assists – registered four of her nine assists in the period.
Drummer led UCLA in rebounds, tallying nine on the night.
As the buzzer sounded, the four seniors were hugged by their teammates and coaches as they stepped off of the court one last time.
“(Today) was really emotional because I’ve developed a lot of close relationships with all the four seniors in different ways,” said sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere. “It’s sad to see them go but I’m really excited for their next endeavors.”
But it’s not over yet for UCLA.
The Bruins will open the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas as the No. 4 seed. UCLA will have a bye Thursday and will face the winner of No. 5 seed Arizona State and No. 12 seed Colorado on Friday.