Women’s basketball set to face Georgia, Indiana in final nonconference games
Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean leads No. 10 UCLA women’s basketball with 45 assists and is second in points with 102, despite missing the first two games of the season because of redshirt restrictions. (James Schaap/Daily Bruin)
Thursday, 8 a.m.
No. 12 Indiana
Sunday, 9 a.m.
Big Ten Network
By Dylan Dsouza
Dec. 18, 2019 3:51 p.m.
The Bruins are still undefeated – but so are four other Pac-12 schools.
No. 10 UCLA women’s basketball (9-0) will hit the road to take on Georgia (7-3) in its penultimate nonconference matchup Thursday and will then travel north for a matchup with No. 12 Indiana (10-1), the Bruins’ first ranked opponent of the season. Following the two games, UCLA will start a slate of 18 consecutive Pac-12 matches.
Only 11 undefeated teams remain in the country – five of them reside in the Pac-12.
With the next two games taking place during the winter break, coach Cori Close said she recognizes the importance of the Christmas break for her players.
“Are you doing every little thing under your control to master your craft and be the best teammate you can be?” Close said. “They don’t have any school now. It’s just basketball and family. … Let’s do whatever it takes to be the team that grows through the break the most. … We have the Pac-12 conference being the No. 1 conference in the country. Coming right after Christmas break or the holiday break, we have got to grow.”
It will be the seventh outing between UCLA and Georgia, with each team coming out on top three times.
In its match against Georgia last season, junior forward Michaela Onyenwere posted a then-career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds to outlast the Bulldogs 80-69. The Bruins trailed the Bulldogs by as many as 12 points in the fixture but finished on an 18-4 run to eke out the upset.
Onyenwere said one of the keys to UCLA’s success this year will be the team’s defense.
“I think just continuing to focus on defense,” Onyenwere said. “That’s our anchor and as the season goes on just continuing to get better.”
Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean echoed similar sentiments.
“It starts with our defense and getting tips and deflections,” Dean said. “It’s good that we turn people over because we’re small on the inside and it helps our transition.”
The Bruins have committed 12.4 turnovers per game in comparison to their opponent’s 20.9 transgressions per game.
In its match against Indiana last season, the Bruins were only able to force 12 turnovers en route to a 67-65 loss to a then-unbeaten Hoosiers squad. UCLA let a double-digit lead in the first half slip away when Indiana guard Jaelynn Penn knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner with 29 seconds left to give Indiana a one-point lead that would make the difference.
Thursday’s tipoff is scheduled for 8 a.m. and Sunday’s game will begin at 9 a.m.