Scouting report: UCLA women’s basketball vs. Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State
Following its 68-58 victory over USC on Jan. 23, UCLA women’s basketball (9-4, 4-1 Pac-12) is set to host No. 8 Arizona (14-2, 4-2) on Wednesday before it heads up north to face No. 19 Oregon (12-5, 4-1) and Oregon State (9-4, 2-1) on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Here’s this week’s scouting report from assistant Sports editor Francis Moon and Sports contributor Lauryn Wang – who watched former Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu dominate in a sold-out Matthew Knight Arena two years ago and is excited to be back in Eugene to watch the Bruins face the Ducks.
Coach: Adia Barnes
Starting lineup: G Shaina Pellington, G Bendu Yeaney, F Sam Thomas, F Cate Reese, F Lauren Ware
Best Player: F Cate Reese
X-Factor: F Sam Thomas
Points per game: 71.2
Field goal percentage: 45.6%
Points allowed per game: 54.1
Field goal percentage allowed: 35.4%
Arizona has consistently been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll, but its ability to maintain early leads and sustain offensive prowess across a full game has been suspect.
The Wildcats have been outscored in the fourth quarter in all but two of their five conference matchups. In two losses this year to the Trojans and the Ducks, fourth-quarter woes proved to be the team’s downfall, as they were outscored by double digits in the final frame in both defeats.
Notable players powering the offense include forward Cate Reese, who leads her team with 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while forward Sam Thomas paces the team in 3-point percentage among players with at least one long-range attempt per game at 45.2%, good for fourth in the Pac-12.
Reese and Thomas – who were each named to the 2020-2021 All-Pac-12 Team – are both seniors who have been in Tuscon since at least 2018. Their leadership has been important for the Wildcats, who are adjusting to the loss of former Pac-12 Player of the Year and current Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald.
Guards Shaina Pellington and Bendu Yeaney have been the backcourt beneficiaries of McDonald’s departure. Pellington has improved her 3-point percentage by 37 percentage points since last season, and Yeaney is the team’s top passer with 2.8 assists per game.
Playing in her third game since returning from a knee injury sustained in early December, 6-foot-5 forward Lauren Ware is the lone underclassman starter for the Wildcats. In Arizona’s game against Utah, she showed no signs of rust, posting seven points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Arizona also boasts one of the deepest benches in the conference. Coach Adia Barnes is working with a 15-player rotation, with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
The Wildcats are ultimately working with a bench twice as deep as the Bruins, who have had just seven active players for the last few games. Despite its small roster, UCLA has still found recent success, and momentum is a key factor in generating an effective Arizona offense. If the blue and gold can put pressure on Arizona’s offense – especially down the stretch – it may notch its first ranked victory of the season.
– Lauryn Wang
Coach: Kelly Graves
Starting lineup: G Endyia Rogers, G Te-Hina Paopao, G Maddie Scherr, G Sydney Parrish, F Nyara Sabally
Best Player: F Nyara Sabally
X-Factor: G Te-Hina Paopao
Points per game: 74.8
Field goal percentage: 45.7%
Points allowed per game: 61.4
Field goal percentage allowed: 37.6%
The Ducks have found their stride after some early-season struggles adapting to a new roster.
Oregon – which saw the departure of six rotation players – lost three straight nonconference games in the beginning of its season as it experimented with new combinations amid an already injury-shortened bench.
But since the return of their key trio of players – guard Te-Hina Paopao, forward Nyara Sabally and guard Endyia Rogers – the Ducks have been getting it done lately.
With the exception of its 68-80 loss to No. 2 Stanford on Jan. 7, Oregon has gone undefeated since welcoming back the playmaking and shooting of Sabally, Rogers and Paopao. The team’s deep guard rotation has also allowed it to execute back-to-back ranked wins over No. 7 Arizona and No. 9 Connecticut on Jan. 15 and Jan. 17, respectively.
Paopao sustained a foot injury in November and missed nine games leading up to conference play, but her role has proven invaluable in spurring the Ducks’ offense since returning in early January. The guard was named to the All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Freshman teams last season and recently followed up a career-high 24-point game against Arizona and 22 points with eight rebounds against UConn.
Sabally injured her right knee in the Ducks’ season opener but has made the transition back onto the court look relatively seamless. She has contributed two 20-point efforts in her last three games and has demonstrated the ability to control the pace late in the game – an important factor in Friday’s matchup, as the Bruins’ offense often comes alive in the third quarter.
Rogers – a transfer from USC – also sat out early in the season because of a broken hand. Her ability to rise in clutch moments, including a game-winning shot versus Arizona, despite inconsistent shooting is indicative of her growing confidence.
Oregon relies heavily on the leadership and facilitating of these three players, and the Ducks have struggled throughout the season to generate adequate offensive looks in the absence of Paopao, Sabally and Rogers.
Junior guard Charisma Osborne, graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas and graduate student guard Jaelynn Penn will have the opportunity to shut that trio down. If they can do that, it will be the difference between a win and a loss for the Bruins.
– Lauryn Wang
Coach: Scott Rueck
Starting lineup: G Tea Adams, G Talia von Oelhoffen, G Greta Kampschroeder, F Taya Corosdale, F Kennedy Brown
Best Player: G Talia von Oelhoffen
X-factor: F Kennedy Brown
Points per game: 67.4
Field Goal Percentage: 41.9%
Points allowed per game: 58.2
Field goal percentage allowed: 34.9%
The Beavers present the toughest defense the Bruins will face this week.
Through 13 games this season, Oregon State has allowed its opponents to shoot 34.9% from the field, a mark good for second in the Pac-12. On Jan. 13, it held Arizona to 55 points, its second-lowest point total of the season.
After losing that contest to the Wildcats on a last-second shot, the Beavers have won their last two conference games – including handing Colorado its second loss of the season – and sit at fifth in the Pac-12. The team has shown the tendency to play to its opponent’s level, however, with each of those three games coming within six points.
Oregon State has won every game in which they’ve scored more than 62 points, but have been missing a main source of offensive production for the last three games in forward Taylor Jones and her 12.4 points per game. The 2020-2021 All-Pac-12 honoree has shot 64.9% from the field this season – which would rank first in the conference by more than five percentage points if stretched out over her missed games.
Should Oregon State not get Jones back, guard Talia von Oelhoffen will be the player to key in on for the Bruins on defense. The freshman has put up team highs of 13.3 points and 3.2 assists per game this season, but is being asked to do a bit too much with Jones on the bench after being held to 3-of-10 shooting against Washington on Sunday.
Luckily for the Beavers, other players have stepped up.
Forward Kennedy Brown, who stands at 6-foot-6, offers an intriguing matchup for the Bruins down low. Brown ranks in the top 10 in the conference in rebounds and blocks per game with 7.7 and 1.4, respectively, and is beginning to find her stride after missing the entirety of last season while recovering from an ACL tear.
Brown led Oregon State in scoring in its win over Washington with 13 points, adding eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals while displaying her versatility on both ends of the court. The Bruin forwards will face a tall task, but have shown the ability to play through size disadvantages this season already.
Also in the frontcourt, forwards Taya Corosdale and Ellie Mack – who showed their ability to light it up by shooting 4-for-4 from 3-point range against Colorado – will also be players to watch on defense for the Bruins.
Should the blue and gold pull off two ranked wins to start the week, it must not let up on Sunday as Oregon State is far from an opponent to underlook.
– Francis Moon