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UCLA women’s basketball looks to climb up the rankings in Bay Area matchups

Redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir shoots the ball while being defended. Bessoir totaled 20 points in the UCLA’s most recent contest against Oregon. (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Basketball

Friday, 6 p.m.

Berkeley, CA
Pac-12 Bay Area
Monday, 6 p.m.

Stanford, CA

By Leila Bivins

Feb. 17, 2023 3:01 p.m.

The Bruins are headed on the road looking to escape the fourth-place stalemate in the conference standings.

Despite moving up two spots in the AP poll, the blue and gold remains in a three-way deadlock with Arizona and USC in the Pac-12 standings.

No. 16 UCLA women’s basketball (20-6, 9-5 Pac-12) will battle California (12-13, 3-11) and No. 3 Stanford (24-3, 12-2) on Friday and Monday, respectively. The Bruins split their last matchups against their Northern California counterparts, with both games boiling down to the final quarter of play.

The Bruins secured the 17-point victory against the Golden Bears in their first Pac-matchup despite trailing by two at the half. UCLA shot 73.3% from the field and outscored Cal 29-13 in the fourth quarter.

Freshman guard Londynn Jones led the team in the victory over the Golden Bears with 18 points off the bench. Jones has elevated to become the team’s fourth leading scorer and scored in double digits in 10 out of her last 15 games.

“I just try to take advantage of every opportunity,” Jones said. “Coming off the bench does not really matter to me as long as I’m contributing in any aspect.”

UCLA received its first home loss of the season in its January matchup against Stanford but maintained a close game throughout the first three quarters.

The Bruins came into the second half with the score knotted at 32 and trailed by just two by the end of the third quarter, but the fourth quarter determined their fate as the Cardinal pushed ahead. UCLA shot 21% from the field in the final frame, and its chances at the underdog win were swiftly blocked by Stanford center Cameron Brink.

“You’re not going to beat a great team like Stanford when you don’t bring the A-game on the things under your control for 40 minutes,” said coach Cori Close.

Brink dominated the fourth quarter after picking up six blocks. UCLA had its worst shooting quarter of the game in the final 10 minutes, with a third of its attempts blocked by Brink and fewer shots made than her blocks alone.

“We need to stay more consistent and being locked in, executing what we’re looking for, and just being tougher overall,” said redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir. “We were tied at halftime. When we came out, they went on a run, and we never stopped them.”

The Bruins’ fourth-quarter letdowns extended during their most recent three-game losing streak, with all games coming down to the final possession and closing with a combined loss margin of fewer than five points across the three contests.

UCLA ended the pattern with its 19-point victory against Arizona State, which began its current three-game winning streak.

“We lost those three really close games, and we talked about controlling the defensive boards and taking care of the ball in the last three minutes of the game, and again we did those things,” Close said. “I just want us to continue to focus on growth moving forward.”

The Bruins will test their growth and closing ability in their Bay Area matchups, with tipoff at 6 p.m. both Friday and Monday.

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Leila Bivins | Sports contributor
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
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