A familiar early-season foe awaits the young Bruins.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (1-0) will continue its nonconference slate with a game against Loyola Marymount (0-0) on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The contest will mark the second straight season and the sixth time in the last 10 years the Bruins and Lions will face each other in nonconference play.
“I respect Loyola Marymount a lot,” said coach Cori Close. “I think that (LMU coach) Charity (Elliott) does a great job with the program.”
Last season, LMU went 18-15, including a 10-8 record in the West Coast Conference.
LMU is coming off a 59-50 win in its exhibition matchup against Point Loma, in which forward Jasmine Jones led the Lions with 20 points and tied with center Raychel Stanley for a team-leading nine rebounds.
Despite trailing 33-30 at halftime, the 5-foot-10 Jones led LMU with 14 of the team’s 32 points in the paint, which contributed to the Lions’ comeback. LMU’s paint presence was a factor in its 69-63 win over UCLA to open the 2018-2019 season, with the Lions outscoring the Bruins 40-28 in the paint.
“I am definitely worried about controlling the paint on the defensive end,” Close said. “That’s gonna be a huge part of our game plan – limiting their paint touches.”
UCLA lost two of its top three rebounders from a year ago in then-redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer and then-senior guard Kennedy Burke. In the Bruins’ 2019 opener against Weber State, junior forward Lauryn Miller started at the post and played about 12 of the first 20 minutes before being taken out early in the third quarter with four fouls.
Miller finished the game with four rebounds and three steals in 18 total minutes after playing just 13 minutes per game last season. The junior played just 14 minutes in UCLA’s matchup against LMU last season.
“We’ve definitely been working on our post defense and how we’re going to make sure our ball pressure keeps people out of the paint,” Miller said. “Saturday is going to be a good testament to see how far we’ve come with that.”
Redshirt junior transfer guard Natalie Chou also contributed to the Bruins’ win Tuesday, notching nine points and eight rebounds in her UCLA debut. Chou played two seasons at Baylor before sitting out the entire 2018-2019 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Freshman guards Charisma Osborne and Jaden Owens played 33 minutes and 23 minutes, respectively, in UCLA’s season-opening victory. Osborne led the Bruins in scoring with 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-7 from the 3. The two freshmen also tied for the team lead in assists, along with redshirt sophomore guard Kayla Owens, with four apiece.
“I think I did pretty well because my teammates put me in good positions,” Osborne said. “I see myself as more of a scorer, but if I see my teammates are open I am going to try to get them the ball as much as I can.”
UCLA’s road loss to LMU last season ended the Bruins’ nine-game winning streak over the Lions, something Close said has given the Bruins a baseline of motivation for Saturday’s matchup.
“If I have to motivate the team for this game, we got issues,” Close said. “I think it’s going to be a great game.”
Tipoff between the Bruins and Lions will be at 2 p.m.