UCLA forward Markel Walker had 15 points and 12 rebounds against St. Mary's on Saturday. - Jason O. Watson | USA Today Sports
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Behind the double-doubles of Markel Walker and Alyssia Brewer, as well as the second-half offense of Jasmine Dixon, UCLA fought off St. Mary's 76-62. Walker had 15 points and 12 rebounds; Brewer added 12 points and 10 boards. For St. Mary's, Danielle Mauldin led the way with 26 points and 9 rebounds. For bad first impressions, rough halftimes, laundry mishaps, and raw tools, join your intrepid and less-than-coherent blogger after the jump.
On to game 2, which is pretty much everyone's cue to leave for some reason. Come on, guys, there's another game, you paid for it, you might as well stick around for it.
Johnnies, or at least Jennifer Blanding, are starting to circulate, though I think it'll take longer for people who actually played to come into the bleachers. There'll be plenty of room for them when they get here.
St. Mary's has very depressing gray/off-white home jerseys. Like someone accidentally put them in the same wash with Raiders gear or something. Iona definitely have my favorite Gaels.
Spotted between games: former St. John's star Da'Shena Stevens. I think they're giving her the grand tour of the redecorated areas. She's kind of a big deal.
At halftime, UCLA is up 35-28, and I can't figure out why it's not more. St. Mary's has rarely been able to buy a bucket. When you have a possession with five offensive rebounds followed by a deflection and side-out, you should be able to score on it. I also keep thinking St. Mary's needs to hit a weight room or something. Maybe that's just the type of player their coach recruits because they slip through the cracks, but it's sort of amusing to see all these blocky, solid players- and then Jackie Nared looking like a willow tree.
This didn't turn into anything vaguely like a rout until about the six-minute mark. I think the Gaels just ran out of gas and UCLA got inspired. Somehow.
Please note: St. Mary's wore whiteish and UCLA wore blue, but UCLA sat on the home bench and was announced as the home team. Assuming this was to allow each team to only carry one set of jerseys. Ordering is assuming UCLA as the road team.
Kari Korver took both her shots from somewhere in the vicinity of Suffolk County which really seemed to be unnecessary. Mariah Williams needs to hang out with Shakena Richardson from Rutgers, because seeing the two of them on back to back weekends was like instant replay. Williams has a knack for the flashy pass and the quick play, but needs to get some of her fundamentals down pat. Jasmine Dixon was in and out so often that I was starting to get seasickness. The physiotape on and around her knee is interesting, but I don't know if having enough tape on to build your own basketball net (and even criss-crossing it to look like a net) is a good sign for one's future. She was solid in the second half; she looked like she had gained confidence at halftime and was more willing to go into the paint. I'd just like for her to be healthy.
Thea Lemberger looked good early with her jumper. As UCLA went more to their forwards, she became less of a factor. Nirra Fields made some pretty plays. Atonye Nyingifa started to get it going in the second half close to the basket. Alyssia Brewer was a physical presence in the post, but a very slow one. They found her a little more in the second half, though not as much as I think they will tomorrow. Markel Walker started out the game with a rather dumb turnover, but righted the ship and made a nice showing. I like the way she uses her long arms on defense and the way she cuts into the lane. I don't know if she's a guard or a forward yet, though I think she needs to lean more forward if she wants to make it at the same level. I'm looking forward to getting a better look at her tomorrow.
Regrettably, Kate Gaze did not hit a three, so I had no excuse to break out the "AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE OI OI OI", and that makes me sad. It's St. Mary's, after all. Amanda Arter had the unenviable task of guarding Walker and Brewer at different points in the game. Fouls ensued. Shannon Mauldin got in at the end of the game and did not look comfortable. I don't have any clear recollection of the other St. Mary's reserves, which makes me sad.
For most of the first half, the plan seemed to be to run the old Southwest Missouri State offense- give the ball to Jackie and get out of the way. The fact that it was Jackie Nared instead of Jackie Stiles didn't seem relevant. She was arguably the only St. Mary's player to pass the eye test, which just goes to show what kind of bullhockey the eye test can be. She had a nice outside shots and fired off passes quite rapidly. Then Danielle Mauldin happened, reminding me very much of a young Le'Coe Willingham with her build and willingness to take the ball into the paint, coupled with a nice little mid-range shot, adding some rebounding to boot. I like her. Morgan Hatten didn't have a lot of great plays, but I like that she always had a hand up when UCLA went on the fast break. Mia Greco- huh, I wonder if she's related to Michelle Greco- got tangled up in a couple of stupid plays. Carli Rosenthal cleaned up the glass fairly well.
Some screwball officiating in this one, but I've learned not to be surprised by that anymore. At least one of the guys reversed a blatantly bad out of bounds call.
St. Mary's fans were very enthusiastic. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that kind of support for a team on the other side of the country from home.
I'm fully expecting the consolation game tomorrow to be as good as the championship game, and in terms of competition, maybe even better.