Women’s basketball readies to face Northern Colorado for first time since 2015
Freshman guard Jaden Owens has averaged 19 minutes per game for No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball so far this season. She has scored 13 points and posted seven rebounds in the Bruins’ opening three nonconference games. (Niveda Tennety/Assistant Photo editor)
Friday, 7 p.m.
No TV info
November 21, 2019 7:39 pm
The Bruins’ nonconference schedule in the confines of Pauley Pavilion is nearing its conclusion.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (3-0 Pac-12) has a chance to earn another victory when it takes on Northern Colorado (2-3 Big Sky) on Friday at Pauley Pavilion, vying to stay unbeaten in its five-game homestand.
This matchup marks the first game between the Bears and the Bruins since UCLA’s 74-60 victory in the third round of the 2015 Women’s National Invitation Tournament – a tournament UCLA eventually won.
The Bruins have defeated their previous three opponents – Weber State, Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State – by margins of 40, 22 and 35 points, respectively.
In all three contests, UCLA had a different leader in minutes. Junior forward Michaela Onyenwere leads the team with 17 points per game.
Redshirt junior guard Natalie Chou, a transfer from Baylor, is among the players adjusting to a different system as the season progresses.
“Last year was pretty tough having to watch from the sidelines, but my teammates and my coaches and the staff have been really supportive and helpful with my transition back on the court,” Chou said. “It’s a totally different coaching style and coaching philosophy, it’s different ideas and opinions about many different things”
Junior guard Chantel Horvat also has a new role on the team as she returns this season from a lengthy absence.
“In the last few years, I’ve played the two, three guard positions,” Horvat said. “I also am the tallest on the floor right now, because we do have a lot of our post players injured, so I’ve had to step into new roles and help the post out and play down low. I think we can use my versatility to our advantage.”
Friday’s game marks the second of the season for redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean, who posted seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field in her season debut against Long Beach State.
Dean, who was named to the Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch List at the start of the season, has been labeled a mentor by freshman guard and former five-star recruit Jaden Owens.
Owens said she is satisfied with working behind a player of Dean’s caliber as she adapts from high school basketball to college.
“I respected just knowing I’m playing behind (Dean). I couldn’t be happier to play behind a point guard like her,” Owens said. “I’m learning so much, so I don’t mind having less minutes because I’m on the bench and I’m getting the experience I need to going against (Dean) in practice. … It’s great for me.”
Northern Colorado has won its last two contests and competes in the Big Sky conference. Guard Alexis Chapman leads the Bears in points per game and 3-point shooting percentage with marks of 14.4 points and 37.1%, respectively.
UCLA has yet to exceed 27% from 3-point range this season as the Bruins move closer to Pac-12 play and the players look to improve.
“(Coach Cori Close) is really big on telling us that we’re not playing against an opponent right now; we’re playing against ourselves and our best selves,” Chou said. “Every single game is an opportunity to get better and get where we need to be before Pac-12 starts.”
Tip-off for Friday’s game is at 7 p.m., and the Bruins wrap up their five-game homestand against Yale on Tuesday.