For the first time all season, the Bruins will face a team ranked higher than themselves.
In its third and fourth consecutive games on the road, No. 10 UCLA women’s basketball (19-2, 8-2 Pac-12) will travel to face No. 6 Stanford (20-2, 9-1) and California (9-12, 1-9) on Friday and Sunday, respectively, as the Bruins move into the latter half of their Pac-12 regular season schedule.
Coach Cori Close said the Bruins will have to be wary of the shooters the Cardinal – who are undefeated in 12 games at home – have.
“We’re not as good a shooting team as Stanford,” Close said. “So we’ve got to get more shots on goal and that’s the reality. That can happen by getting second shot opportunities by rebounding or it can happen by giving them empty possessions and us turning them over.”
Stanford will enter the contest off a five-game winning streak, shooting 45.4% from the field and 34.9% from beyond the arc, in comparison to 40.1% and 28.7% for UCLA, respectively.
Close said her team will need to focus on shutting down the Cardinal guard Kiana Williams.
“They start and end with (Williams),” Close said. “That’s going to be a really important matchup for us. She’s a really good point guard. … Their post players are two of the better ones. They’re so big so it’s really a contrasting style.”
Freshman guard Charisma Osborne said that redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean will be matched up against Williams. Osborne will be defending Cardinal guard Lexi Hulle, Stanford’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, said transition defense will be key.
“They really get down in transition so we need to make sure we stop the ball,” Osborne said. “(We) need to pick up the ball early and communicate with each other.”
The Cardinal have only dropped two games this season, both times either logging over 11 turnovers, or giving up more than 10 offensive rebounds. The Bruins have forced opponents into 18.6 turnovers per game and have averaged 16.5 offensive rebounds per game.
Conversely, the Bears – whose lone conference win came in overtime against Washington on the road – carry the second-lowest 3-point percentage and cough up the ball most often among Pac-12 teams in conference play.
Redshirt sophomore Lindsey Corsaro, who was scoreless in her last four games, said she decided to spend extra time working on her shot at the end of Thursday’s practice.
“I always do a lot of extra shooting, especially the day before a game,” Corsaro said. “I wanted to get some extra work in with (assistant coach Tasha Brown).”
While the Bruins have had all of their losses on the road, Close said there are some benefits to playing on the road.
“I try and create an ‘us versus them’ mentality,” Close said. “Actually, it’s sometimes easier on the road because there’s very few distractions. We get to control (the players’) eating, their sleep, hydration and all that.”
Stanford and California are the only teams in the conference that UCLA will not host at Pauley Pavilion during the regular season.
Tipoffs are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.