The Bruins are shooting at their highest free throw percentage all season.
UCLA women’s basketball (13-9, 6-4 Pac-12) defeated Washington State (7-15, 2-9) and Washington (8-15, 1-10) at home over the weekend – averaging 78 percent from the free throw line.
The Bruins rank ninth in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage, but second in free throws made per game. They would rank first in the conference in free throw percentage if they were shooting with the same success it had against the Cougars and Huskies.
Redshirt freshman guard Lindsey Corsaro said the Bruins are hitting their shots because they give each other confidence to score.
“I’m just grateful to have coaches and teammates who encourage me to shoot the ball,” Corsaro said. “They’re always telling me (to) keep shooting.”
The Bruins went 28-of-35 from the free throw line when they defeated Arizona in triple overtime Jan. 27.
Two Bruins rank in the top five in free throw percentage – sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere and senior guard Japreece Dean.
Onyenwere averaged 90 percent from the charity stripe in the last 10 games. The forward averaged 82 percent in free throw shooting last season.
Dean tops the conference shooting 89.5 percent from the free throw line – good for 20.7 percent higher than her average last season. She went 5-of-5 from the charity stripe against Washington State on Friday to break a 16-year-old record.
The guard broke the school record for consecutive free throw makes when she made her 33rd free throw in a row, topping Michelle Grecco’s 32 consecutive makes during the 2002-2003 season.
“(I) tremendously admire (Dean’s) ability to step up in pressurized situations and hit free throws,” said coach Cori Close. “(I) know that we can get the ball in her hands and she can step up and make free throws.”
Dean is the Bruins’ third-highest scorer, registering 13 points in UCLA’s most recent game against Washington.
“We really emphasize turnovers and rebounding for us to win games,” Dean said.
The Bruins rank first in the conference in offensive rebounding, pulling down over 50 rebounds in two of their last three games.
“It is a lot easier to play on offense when you got (defensive) stops in a row,” Close said. “We started out in our player-to-player defense (and were) getting stops. We switched to our zone and continued to get stops.”
The Bruins forced 19 turnovers against Washington State. UCLA has forced an average of 16.3 turnovers in the last four games its won.
“We talk a lot about valuing the basketball and rebounding because we need extra possessions,” Close said. “Turnover margin and rebound margin are so important for us.”
UCLA will have the opportunity to continue its shooting success when it travels to Colorado on Friday.