Women’s basketball brings home 72-65 victory against USC to start conference play
Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere logged 14 of UCLA women’s basketball’s 28 first-half points and finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Bruins’ win over USC. (Daniel Leibowitz/Daily Bruin staff)
Dec. 30, 2018 10:36 pm
Cori Close said the third quarter was the turning point for the Bruins.
“We played with much more toughness,” the coach said. “If you want a different outcome, then you need to choose a different response. That’s really what the bottom line of the second half was.”
UCLA (8-5, 1-0 Pac-12) women’s basketball overcame a 13-point deficit by outscoring USC (10-2, 0-1) in a 16-2 run over a 4:48 stretch in the third period to defeat its crosstown rival 72-65 on the road. The Bruins have won the matchup eight times in the last nine games.
After trailing by 11 points at the end of the first half, UCLA outscored USC 31 to 10 in the third quarter by adjusting defensively.
“It really was taking away right-hand drives, sitting in a stance, forcing contested jumpers and controlling the boards,” Close said. “It was (executing) the game plan.”
The Bruins gave up six turnovers to USC in the first quarter.
Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere said UCLA discussed ways to change its performance at half time.
“We knew that we didn’t play our best defensively,” Onyenwere said. “(We focused on) getting back to what we had set in practice.”
Onyenwere entered the game ranked 10th in scoring and eighth in rebounding among players in the Pac-12. The forward logged her fourth double-double of the season.
“I think (Onyenwere) is a beast,” said redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer. “We just continue to try to feed her, find her. I mean (USC) sent two, three people at her,”
Drummer recorded UCLA’s second double-double of the night, pulling down a season high of 14 rebounds against the Trojans. Drummer ranked the fourth in rebounding among players in the Pac-12 before facing off against USC.
Close said Onyenwere’s and Drummer’s confidence going up against the Trojans was essential for a Bruin victory.
“This was a really important piece for our (conference) start and for our confidence,” Close said. “I thought (the win) was a very important piece (for us) and a very important game.”
UCLA will have the opportunity to carry momentum from its five-game win streak into its next stretch of games against four straight top-25 teams.
“We have just a horrific January in terms of how the schedule falls,” Close said. “We’ve got to get better every week.”
The Bruins will travel to face No. 14 California (9-2) on Friday. UCLA defeated the Bears in both matchups last season.