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Women’s water polo clinches win in mini tournament and exhibition match

Freshman goalkeeper Quinn Winter had five saves over two games in her first home action for No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo. She also recorded a one-on-one save against No. 1 USC during Saturday night’s exhibition game. (Elise Tsai/Daily Bruin)

Women's water polo

No. 12 Fresno State10
No. 3 UCLA16

By Kyle Boal

Feb. 2, 2020 3:24 p.m.

The Bruins claimed victory in their sole official game at the UCLA Mini Tournament.

No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (10-1, 1-0 MPSF) defeated No. 12 Fresno State (2-6) 16-10 early Saturday morning and later upset No. 1 USC (3-0) 10-9 in overtime in an exhibition match.

The Bruins shot 16-of-31 on the game against the Bulldogs, with sophomore attacker Bella Baia leading the way for UCLA with a hat trick on 3-of-3 shooting.

Baia said her teammates’ ability to get open allowed her to sneak by near the goal and get in three goals.

“A lot of it was just off the structure we had on offense and counterattacks,” Baia said. “I went to the bottom line and they sort of just left me open because a lot of other people were open and they had to switch over. So it was definitely me playing off other individuals.”

The Bruins had four goals in the first, four in the second, three in the third and five in the fourth, good for eight goals in each half.

Senior attacker Emily Skelly – one of five players with multiple goals against the Bulldogs – said despite the equal distribution of goals, the team did not play as consistently as coach Adam Wright would have wanted.

“I would say today was not consistent at all,” Skelly said. “When (Wright) talks about consistency, he means in and out of the pool. A consistent mentality of, ‘We’re playing ourselves, so we need to uphold a certain standard of playing that’s set at UCLA.’ It’s just a mindset that we go in with, and today we were lacking it, so that wasn’t consistent with the ways we’ve been following.”

While the Bulldogs shot just 10-of-30, Fresno State center Emily Nicholson shot 4-of-5 and added five drawn exclusions.

As a team, the Bulldogs had eight drawn exclusions and seven steals, as compared to the Bruins’ seven drawn exclusions and eight steals.

Wright noted Fresno State’s physicality and said it gave his team a great opportunity to utilize multiple styles of play over the weekend.

“It’s good for us to see both agile and physical teams,” Wright said. “Fresno actually did a great job today with all their games; they play physical. But we have to be ready to play all different styles. So for us, this was a huge opportunity in the fact that we saw a lot of different teams in terms of style of play.”

Junior goalkeeper Jahmea Bent started the game against the Bulldogs, registering eight saves while allowing seven goals. Freshman Quinn Winter subbed in for the final quarter of the game, tallying four saves and allowing three goals – two of which came in the final 50 seconds of the game.

In the exhibition match against the top-ranked Trojans, all three Bruin goalkeepers saw action, with redshirt freshman Georgia Phillips getting the start. Bent came in after halftime, but was subbed out in the fourth for Winter, who played the rest of the game.

Wright said the scrimmage was a great opportunity to play all three goalkeepers, while seeing where the team as a whole was at – realizing that both teams showed room for improvement down the road.

“We played all three goalies tonight; it gives us a little bit of insight into where we are,” Wright said. “We know (USC is) going to get a whole lot better and our goal is that we get a whole lot better too. It was nice for our girls to see it all the way through until the end, but we fully understand that this is only the beginning.”

UCLA plays again next weekend at the Triton Invitational in La Jolla, California, where they are guaranteed to play at least four times.

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Kyle Boal | Assistant Sports editor
Boal is currently an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, men's water polo, women's water polo, rowing and swim and dive beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
Boal is currently an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, men's water polo, women's water polo, rowing and swim and dive beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
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