With only four nonconference games left, the Bruins have a chance to maintain their perfect record Saturday on the road in Northridge, California.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (7-0) will have an opportunity to extend its winning streak to eight games when it faces Cal State Northridge (3-6) on Saturday at the Matadome. It will be the first matchup between the two teams since the Bruins lost 77-72 on Dec. 20, 2012.
Despite not playing each other for almost seven years, coach Cori Close said there will be some level of familiarity between the teams because of the strong ties within the respective coaching staffs.
“There’s not going to be any secrets,” Close said. “(CSUN’s coach) Jason Flowers (was) a Bruin. (UCLA assistant coach) Tasha (Brown’s) husband is on their staff. They know it’s going to be about players having fight.”
The Matadors are fresh off their second straight win, a 56-54 victory over Loyola Marymount on Wednesday. Forward De’Jionae Calloway made the game-winning layup with eight seconds remaining in the Matador’s win. Calloway leads CSUN in scoring and rebounding this season, averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds.
LMU was one of two opponents that UCLA and CSUN have both faced this year, and Virginia is the other. CSUN lost its matchup against Virginia by 25 points. By comparison, the Bruins won their matchup against the Cavaliers by 11 points Sunday and beat the Lions by 22 on Nov. 9.
Close said the Matadors still present a challenge despite their results so far this season.
“Every time you play a local team, a lot of those players grew up hearing about UCLA so maybe some of them wanted to be recruited by UCLA,” Close said. “They come in with a chip on their shoulder. When you’re the 11th ranked team in the country, you gotta compete knowing that there’s a target on your back.”
In the Bruins’ most recent two games, junior forward Michaela Onyenwere averaged a team-high 24.5 points and 12 rebounds against UCF and Virginia in the Cavalier Classic this past weekend.
Onyenwere did this while battling a shoulder injury she suffered against UCF. She said the injury won’t restrict her in any way against the Matadors.
“I was kind of banged up, I hurt my shoulder in the UCF game,” Onyenwere said. “When you’re banging down low it’s kind of inevitable, but I am fine. I think if all goes right then I am going to be fine for the game on Saturday.”
Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean has averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in her previous three games, including her 20-point triple-double against Yale.
These stats were good enough for her to earn her first-ever Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.
“(Winning Pac-12 Player of the Week) is a cool thing, but it doesn’t really mean a lot to me right now,” Dean said. “I’m focused on winning games, getting better and the team getting better.”
Tipoff between UCLA and CSUN will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday.