Women’s basketball concludes Pac-12 tournament with loss to Cardinal in semifinal
Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean was one of three players to put up a team-high 14 points in No. 2 seed UCLA women’s basketball’s loss to No. 3 seed Stanford on Saturday night. Dean shot 6-of-15 from the field but went just 1-of-5 from distance. (Lauren Man/Daily Bruin)
|No. 2 seed UCLA||51|
|No. 3 seed Stanford||67|
By Dylan Dsouza
March 7, 2020 10:57 p.m.
This post was updated March 9 at 12:41 a.m.
LAS VEGAS — The size deficit was ultimately too much for the Bruins to overcome.
With Stanford having five players in its rotation as tall as or taller than UCLA’s tallest active player, the Bruins allowed 15 offensive rebounds that led to nine Cardinal points, and gave up 32 points in the paint.
No. 2 seed UCLA women’s basketball (26-5, 14-5 Pac-12) fell to No. 3 seed Stanford (27-5, 15-4) by a score of 67-51 to bow out of the Pac-12 tournament in the semifinals for the fourth straight year at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
“I can handle losing but it’s really hard to swallow when we get out-toughed and out-executed at that level,” said coach Cori Close. “Hopefully some of the things that got exposed in us today will really inform our next two weeks of practices.”
Cardinal guard Lexie Hull scored 13 of her 28 points in the first half, nearly matching her scoring average of 13.3 points per game in that frame alone. She also added six first-half rebounds, good for the most of any player.
The Bruins only managed to secure four defensive rebounds in the first half, with no player donning the blue and gold hauling in more than two rebounds in the half. The 11 offensive rebounds UCLA gave up to Stanford were converted to seven second-chance points.
“We kept them to 25 points (in the first half) which was great, but I don’t think we came out with the sense of urgency and just competitiveness and fight and focus that we had in the first half,” said junior forward Michaela Onyenwere. “That is something that we just have to continue to get better at even when shots aren’t dropping for us.”
Both teams were uncharacteristically turnover prone, combining for 25 turnovers in the opening half in comparison to their combined average of 25.3 turnovers per game prior to Saturday.
The Bruins finished the game with a season-high 21 turnovers, 12 of which came off Cardinal steals. Stanford also had 21 turnovers, but only allowed UCLA to score 14 points off them – 12 fewer than Stanford scored off UCLA’s giveaways.
After closing the deficit to three points early in the third quarter, Stanford went on a 23-4 run to leave UCLA with an insurmountable task in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of things went wrong during that stretch (and the Cardinal) were able to get into an offensive rhythm,” Close said. “In the third quarter, all their passing, cutting, getting the ball where they needed to and who they needed to (came together). (They were) coming off screens and getting in rhythm shots and getting to the cup one-on-one.”
UCLA managed to cut Stanford’s lead – which got as large as 26 in the fourth quarter – to 13 points with 2:45 remaining, but Hull responded with back-to-back steals and scores to put the game out of reach.
The sophomore guard added to her second-best scoring performance of the season by stuffing the stat sheet with five steals, nine boards and a career-high-tying seven turnovers.
The Bruins only got scoring contributions from five players – a season low. Three of the five players that scored – Onyenwere, redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean and freshman guard Charisma Osborne – contributed 14 points each.
“Everybody’s game plan is going to start with (Dean), (Osborne) and (Onyenwere),” Close said. “It’s not just other people who have to step up and make shots. It’s not that simple. We’ve got to know what we’re doing and how we’re creating together so we make a higher percentage of those shots.”
Apart from Osborne, who was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, UCLA shot 13.3% from 3. The Bruins failed to score consistently, scoring on only 33.3% of their possessions in comparison to 48.4% for the Cardinal.
Stanford will play No. 1 seed Oregon on Sunday at 5 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 tournament final in which the Cardinal took home the trophy with a 64-57 win.
UCLA’s fate in the NCAA tournament will be revealed March 16 at 4 p.m. on ESPN during the Selection Show.
“I can pretty much guarantee you we will come out different for the first couple rounds of the NCAA tournament,” Close said. “We will be much tougher. We will be much more together and we will be able to execute through difficult circumstances at a higher level.”