Women’s basketball posts season-high score in win over UC Santa Barbara
Senior forward Michaela Onyenwere picked up her 1,500th point in No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball’s win over UC Santa Barbara. Onyenwere put up 17 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. (Anika Chakrabarti/Daily Bruin staff)
|UC Santa Barbara||45|
|No. 11 UCLA||102|
By Jon Christon
Dec. 9, 2020 8:00 p.m.
A new starting lineup helped the Bruins to a season-best scoring performance.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) beat UC Santa Barbara (0-1) 102-45 on Wednesday afternoon. The 102 points are the most the Bruins have scored in a game this season and their highest total since scoring 129 points in 2017.
UCLA did the scoring with a new starting five – redshirt junior guard Chantel Horvat started the game, taking the place of redshirt senior guard Natalie Chou.
Coach Cori Close said the move was made both to give the team more toughness and to take some pressure off Chou.
“(Horvat) has just been pretty consistent, and I felt like we needed to have a little bit more of a physical presence, especially on the defensive end,” Close said. “I also think (Chou) was putting so much pressure on herself. It’s a matter of letting her take a deep breath and get a rhythm.”
Horvat finished with career-highs 17 points and 12 rebounds to give her a double-double in her third career start.
After sitting out the first four minutes of the game, Chou came in and made two 3-pointers in less than a minute, helping the Bruins get to a double-digit lead early. Chou tied for the team-high 29 minutes and scored 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
In the first quarter alone, UCLA made four of its seven shots from behind the arc, including a right-wing triple to put the team ahead 22-8 and give senior forward Michaela Onyenwere 1,500 career points – the 19th player in program history to reach the milestone.
Onyenwere credited her teammates – both past and present – with getting her to the 1,500 mark, and also credited her current teammates for their performance in the game today against UCSB.
“I just know we shot the ball really, really well (and) I was really proud of how we executed the game plan,” Onyenwere said. “It’s really hard to guard us when we have so many different options and we are just so versatile. I’m very proud of (them) for doing what they do and being buckets and being ballers.”
Six of the eight Bruins who played scored in double figures, and UCLA also had its best 3-point shooting performance of the year, making 10-of-20 shots from beyond the arc.
With eight triples made in the first 20 minutes as the Bruins rode a 56-24 lead into the second half, UCLA equaled its 3-point shooting performance from the previous two games in just the first half.
Senior forward Lauryn Miller said the increased 3-point shooting wasn’t a point of emphasis but instead a positive byproduct of the team’s increased ball movement.
“Not necessarily shooting more 3s was the emphasis, but definitely as we move the ball more – to be able to be confident and take more 3s if they’re open and available,” Miller said. “Early on, we definitely saw that those inside-out looks and those dribble penetrate to the kicks were open and my teammates were shooting the ball really well, so we just kept riding the wave.”
In the second half, the Bruins went away from the 3-point shot, shooting seven triples in the third quarter and none in the fourth.
Instead, UCLA attacked the basket in the final frame, scoring 22 points in the paint, coinciding with its most efficient 10 minutes of the afternoon.
The Bruins shot 63% from the field in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Gauchos 26-11. They also had eight assists in the period, finishing with a season-high 26 assists as a team, of which Miller had seven – a career-high.
Onyenwere said the team’s new offense has led to the increased ball movement and the overall success of the offense against UCSB, and the team is still getting used to the so-called “motion offense.”
“It’s definitely been an adjustment – just like going from more set orientated like the last couple years, to now just kind of having the freedom to do what you feel is right,” Onyenwere said. “Obviously, there’s much improvement with having a new offense like this, but as the season goes on – it’s only our fourth game – we’ll definitely get better in the motion offense.”
Next up for UCLA is crosstown rival USC. The teams meet will at the Galen Center on Sunday.