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Women’s basketball bests California 80-74 with strong scoring drives

Senior guard Japreece Dean drilled a pull-up 3 to cap off an 8-0 UCLA women’s basketball run, giving the Bruins a six-point lead with 2:29 to go in the game. Dean went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc and finished with career-high 28 points. (Lauren Man/Daily Bruin)

Women’s basketball


By Vinny Lavalsiti

Feb. 17, 2019 9:10 p.m.

Japreece Dean handed out high-fives during timeouts.

“I think (the senior guard) was the key,” said coach Cori Close. “She sets the tone for us.”

UCLA women’s basketball (16-10, 9-5 Pac-12) defeated California (14-11, 5-9) 80-74 on Sunday with a career-high 28 points, four 3-pointers, seven assists and a lone turnover from Dean.

“It’s an incredible stat line, but I don’t think that was her best thing,” Close said. “I thought it was how she kept us emotionally in it. … Her leadership – that was the best part about her game.”

Dean started her night with two consecutive 3s, but the Golden Bears took a 22-19 lead going into the second quarter with the help of eight of the Pac-12’s second-best scorer Kristine Anigwe’s team-high 27 points.

“(Anigwe) is really good,” Close said. “I want to give credit to (Cal’s) entire team for the way they get the ball to her. That’s not easy to do, especially (with) the way we were pressuring (their) guards.”

UCLA scored 20 of its 43 first-half points off 11 Cal turnovers, eight of which came off steals.

“(The deflections and steals) helped huge,” Close said. “We had so many empty possessions after we turned Stanford over (Friday), and today, when we had those deflections or we turned them over – especially in the first half – we were able to capitalize.”

Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere – who is second in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds with 3.9 per game – followed up a missed 3-pointer with a putback layup four minutes into the second quarter, sparking a 12-0 run.

“Rebounding is always important to us. It’s something we pride ourselves on,” Onyenwere said. “Me and (redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer) are kind of a one-two punch in rebounding.”

Onyenwere and Drummer turned their six combined offensive rebounds into 13 points.

But the two went scoreless in the third quarter as the Golden Bears outscored the Bruins by nine, holding UCLA scoreless in the final two and a half minutes to trim the Bruin lead to 58-57.

Anigwe’s 22nd and 23rd points of the night came on a layup in the opening seconds of the final frame to give Cal its first lead since two minutes into the second period.

“I didn’t think we came out as aggressive in our ball pressure (in the second half),” Close said. “The first timeout I called, I said ‘C+’ in ball pressure. … We had to make their guards think about the bounce and where they wanted to find Anigwe.”

The lead would switch hands twice in the fourth quarter until Dean dished her seventh assist of the game to Onyenwere for a go-ahead 3-pointer, putting the Bruins ahead 66-65. The two combined for 17 points in the final period to help UCLA hang on.

“A lot of it was focus,” said senior guard Kennedy Burke. “It was staying together and staying poised not to panic and we showed that today and it showed on the court.”

The Bruins will travel to face a pair of top-10 opponents in No. 3 Oregon and No. 9 Oregon State on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24.

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Vinny Lavalsiti | Alumnus
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
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