The five-game home stand is over.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (5-0) will have its first two road tests of the season against UCF (4-2) and Virginia (3-3) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in the Cavalier Classic Tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“It’s going to be interesting going on the road,” said senior guard Japreece Dean. “But I think we’re excited and ready to step up and do great things.”
The Bruins posted a 9-3 away record and 2-5 neutral record last season.
Saturday will be the first meeting between UCLA and UCF all-time. The Bruins hold a 2-0 all-time record against the Cavaliers, with their last matchup occurring in 1995.
Coach Cori Close said she has been placing additional emphasis on keeping opposing teams off the free throw line, as the Bruins have attempted 81 this season in comparison to their opponents’ 104.
“When you play better and better teams, especially on the road, you’re not going to get the calls yourself,” Close said. “You have to make the other team earn every point with defense. You’ve got to make every shot hard and a free throw is not hard. When we bail out teams with fouls, that’s probably my biggest concern right now.”
The game against UCF will be the first match away from home for two of the top-three minute leaders on the Bruins – redshirt junior guard Natalie Chou and freshman guard Charisma Osborne.
Osborne – who replaced Chou in the starting lineup in the game against Yale – leads the team in 3-point conversions along with Chou at nine.
“Coach (Close) was saying in the locker room that the refs won’t be our side,” Osborne said. “The fans won’t be our side. I like having that competitiveness against the other team and not have everything going our way.”
The Bruins have shot better from 3-point range in each subsequent game this season, culminating in a 10-of-19 showing from beyond the arc against Yale on Tuesday.
The Knights have allowed opponents to shoot 42% from deep this season, in comparison to 27% by opponents of the Bruins and Cavaliers.
Guard Kay Kay Wright leads UCF in scoring with 13.0 points per game, while Virginia’s top scoring threat is guard/forward Jocelyn Willoughby, who is averaging 16.3 points per game.
The trip to Virginia will also boast a non-athletic component for Close’s squad – a field trip to certain Washington, DC, monuments. The team will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and FBI Headquarters.
“This is about who we’re going to become together off the court as well as who we’re going to become together on the court,” Close said.
UCLA will take on UCF at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and will face Virginia at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.