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Bruins in Paris

UCLA women’s basketball sails past Niagara to close Cayman Islands Classic

Sophomore guard Londynn Jones prepares to shoot the ball. Jones shot a 46.2% clip from the field, a significant increase from her five total points in the previous two games. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin staff)

Women’s Basketball


No. 2 UCLA97
Niagara46

By Grace Whitaker

Nov. 25, 2023 12:57 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 25 at 2:20 p.m.

Niagara faced a significant height disadvantage heading into the contest. 

Its tallest player measured in at 6-foot-2, a mark that UCLA boasts seven players at or above on its own roster, with its towering center – sophomore Lauren Betts – coming in at 6-foot-7.

But once the buzzer sounded, one of the Bruins’ heroes on the scoring front was none other than 5-foot-3 sophomore guard Londynn Jones – who found 21 points across the four quarters.

No. 2 UCLA women’s basketball (6-0) boosted its winning streak after taking down Niagara (2-4) by a score of 97-46 to close out its two-day run in the Cayman Islands Classic this weekend. The Bruins are just over halfway through nonconference play while steamrolling ranked and unranked opponents alike as the countdown to Pac-12 competition begins.

“A lot of learning moments,” said coach Cori Close. “I’m very thankful that we came out of this very high level field 2-0, but so much room to grow.” 

One day after a historic top-10 victory, the Bruins held the Purple Eagles to a nearly scoreless first quarter. UCLA propelled itself towards a 27-5 quarter with baskets from eight of its 11 players while limiting Niagara to just a pair of free throws and a last-second made 3-pointer. 

Close said her team’s ability to provide the first run of the game gives it an upper hand that demonstrates its strength in preparation.

“It puts us in the driver’s seat, it puts a lot more pressure on our opponents,” Close said. “What I’m really proud of is, I think it shows their mental and emotional ability to prepare, and they’ve been really good, and now the next championship habit is sustaining.” 

In addition to the success of Jones, UCLA used the height discrepancy to its advantage, with 33 of its 50 points in the first half emerging from its forwards. On the defensive end, UCLA forced Niagara to 15 turnovers in the half and limited it to just 10 offensive rebounds.

Sophomore forward Gabriela Jaquez watches the basket as she prepares to shoot the ball. Jaquez made 23 points against the Purple Eagles on Saturday at the Cayman Islands Classic. (Jake Greenberg-Bell/Daily Bruin staff)

The Bruins further inflated their lead in the second frame, adding 23 more points of their own while allowing their opponents to collect 11. The squad accomplished this mark on 54.3% shooting from the field. 

In the third, Jones came out of the gates ready to extend her total. 

“Londynn was under control,” Close said. “She’s put the work in, she’s a great shooter, and she played the point for us some tonight, so I just thought overall, Londynn not only responded really well from yesterday, but she stepped up in areas in a really productive way.”

The guard added two 3-pointers and two layups, crafting a 19-point performance overall at that point. Jones was not alone in her offensive force as sophomore forward Gabriela Jaquez presented another high mark with 23 points, just under her recent 30-point mark three games ago. 

Jaquez said in addition to growth in her shot, she’s noticed that her experience has steadied the flow of the game.

“Having one year under my belt just helps the game go a little bit slower – I think coming in freshman year, I just wanted to go really fast,” Jaquez said. “But, now it’s kind of slowing down for me, and I have more patience.

Closing the contest, UCLA added another 23 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Niagara. The Bruins accomplished the performance with a significant 64-10 advantage on points in the paint throughout the game. 

Close said as the season moves on, she wants to see improvement in limiting turnovers after the Bruins gave up the ball 26 times Saturday.

“We can’t have this many empty possessions and turning the ball over, and expect to win in really tight games and you can’t give those away,” Close said. “A lot of that is just decision making and learning each other.” 

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Grace Whitaker | Sports senior staff
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
Whitaker is currently a senior staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's soccer, beach volleyball and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats.
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