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Women’s basketball aims for consistency heading into Sweet 16

Senior guard Nirra Fields and the women’s basketball team have no plans to adjust their game in this weekend’s Sweet Sixteen action. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Reed MacDonald

March 24, 2016 8:48 p.m.

The Bruins’ Thursday practice looked much the same as their other ones.

It was at the same time, they ran the same drills and they ended with the same ritual.

Though this practice was the last before the women’s basketball team leaves to Connecticut for the Sweet Sixteen – the furthest stage of the tournament they’ve reached in seventeen years – the Bruins were very clear about one thing: Nothing had changed.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s a difference (in postseason preparation),” said senior guard Nirra Fields. “We are just trying to be consistent in how we prepare in practice and how we watch film and doing everything we’ve done in the (regular) season exactly like we do in the postseason.”

The third-seeded Bruins have reason to be faithful to their system. As they left Pauley Pavilion for the airport immediately after that practice, they were leaving a building where they hadn’t lost in over four months.

Their latest win, a 72-67 thriller against No. 6 seed University of South Florida in the second round, put their streak to the test. The Bruins used four-guard lineups in that game much more than they had throughout the season, but coach Cori Close still reiterated that they were not going to attempting to stray far from who they were as a team.

“You have to know your own team and how much they can mentally handle,” Close said. “You can’t say, ‘We’re going to do what we do and we’re prepared’ and then add a whole new playbook.”

UCLA performed well in one of the nation’s best conferences this season, posting a record of 14-4 in a Pac-12 that still has four of its teams left in the tournament, without relying heavily on surprise.

“It’s just about being able to execute even when every team knows your plays,” said sophomore guard Jordin Canada. “In the Pac-12 we play every team twice so everyone is going to know your stuff … I don’t think it’s a problem for us, we’re just going to have to execute and play basketball.”

UCLA’s next opponent, No. 2 seed Texas, is already familiar with the Bruins’ style of play. The Longhorns notched a 10-point victory early last year against what was a younger but similar Bruin team. However, the UCLA players believe that their consistency will help them this year.

“I mean we do it every day,” said sophomore forward Monique Billings. “We run the same plays every day so I think that’s helped us become a lot sharper and just more crisp with how we execute the plays.”

Saturday afternoon, Texas will likely know what to anticipate. UCLA looks to do it anyway. It’s been pretty content with it so far.

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Reed MacDonald | Alumnus
MacDonald joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2015 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He spent time on the women's basketball, women's soccer and rowing beats.
MacDonald joined the Bruin as a sophomore in 2015 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He spent time on the women's basketball, women's soccer and rowing beats.
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