Los Angeles, CA -- Close leads and PAC 12 conference pressure kept things hot this Valentines day at the Pauley Pavilion as the UCLA Bruins snuck past the Washington Dawgs 63 to 59.
Early pressure, an almost turnover and a foul by Kelsey Plum in the first minute of the game, gave UCLA an early advantage. The Washington Huskies struggled in the first minutes of the game setting up movement in their plays, while the Bruins had great open looks but struggled to get their shots to drop, keeping the score 3 to 3 with 6:36 remaining in the first. The entire game was tough shooting wise for them as across the board, nobody shot the ball strongly.
One player for UW who wouldn't stay cold though would be none other then, Plum. Plum hit some shots and two made free throws from Katie Collier, helped Washington pull away to a 10 to 5 lead with five minutes left in the first. A steal and basket by Plum propelled the Dawgs to a 10-point lead while the Bruins continued to struggle with their shots.
The Bruins struggled getting the ball in the paint while the Dawgs swished back to back three’s, and drew a foul, bringing their lead 26 to 11 in the final minute of the first. With :54 left in the first, the Dawgs had controlled their largest lead of the game with 17.
A steal by Nirra Fields and a basket by Jordin Canada in the final seconds, gave the Bruins a little momentum to cut the lead 13 to 26 at the end of the first. The Bruins might have started slowly, basketball is a game of runs and it would only be a matter of time before the other team would go on one--which the Bruins did.
Plum came out strong in the second with a defensive rebound and buzzer-beating jumper. The star for UCLA (Canada) responded with a huge steal giving the Bruins the opportunity to set up and finally make their first three of the game by Fields.
A technical by Coach Neighbors, brought the Bruins back in the game with two made free throws by Kari Korver. Great hands by Kelsey Swain, gave Canada got another steal and a three-point, then a foul on Kari Korver cut the Huskies lead to three with three minutes left in the half. In the final minute of the half, a perfect layup by Fields cut the Bruins deficit to one, with a score of 35 to 36 going into the half.
After a very disappointing first period for the Bruins, they were able to outscore the Huskies 22-10 in the second period. Continuing to have the hot hand for the Dawgs, Plum leads with 21 points in the first half, with Chantel Osahor leading with seven rebounds. Fields lead the Bruins in the first half with 11 points, with Monique Billings leading rebounding with seven.
To open up the third quarter, UW got a layup off the inbound pass by Talia Walton, gave Washington the fist points in the half, but UCLA answered with a long pass to Billings and a layup by Fields.
An aggressive layup in the paint by Billings gave UCLA their first lead since 9:22 mark in the first however, Washington quickly responded, regaining their lead. Shooting 50% from the field with 4:28 remaining in the third, Washington was still on top 44 to 42.
Drawing a foul from a deep drive to the basket by Canada, UCLA cut the lead to one. A game of runs definitely occurred today as the game continued to go back and forth with who was controlling the lead.
Finding their groove defensively, UCLA was able to pull it together and capture the lead, 47 to 44 with 1:44 remaining in the third. Another perfect swish by Plum tied up the game for the Huskies in the final minute of the third, followed by a defensive steal by Chantel Osahor kept Washington up by one.
Canada had a spectacular game as she opened the fourth with a steal; one of her game high six on the day. Kennedy Burke intercepted a Washington pass but UCLA was unable to put points on the board, struggling with offensive rebounds.
Washington then raced down the court, pulling ahead again with a three from Talia Walton. Korver hit her signature three, bringing UCLA back on top, 52-51. Standing strong on defense, the Bruins were able to get the ball to Billings down low, bringing the lead up to three.
Coming out of a timeout, UW missed the chance to score, yet on the other side of the ball, UCLA was able to capitalize either. Burke and Canada hit some big shots as the quarter started to wind down.
Plum made two free throws in the final minute of the game to cut the lead to two, while also getting a huge possession call in their favor. In the final 7.9 seconds of the game, Washington had possession of the ball, but was unable to score off the inbound pass, with Billings coming up with a huge defensive board.
On the night she has 13 boards, seven of them on defense but none as important as one down the stretch to help secure the win. Inbound pressure was tough by the Huskies, but Drummer was able to get the ball to Canada who drew a foul and made both free throws, securing a Bruins victory, 63-59.
Kelsey Plum dominated for the Huskies, finishing with 32 points and six rebounds, while Oshahor was the rebounding leader with 16. For the Bruins, Jordin Canada was the scoring leader with 16, seven rebounds, nine assist and six steals. She wanted this victory and took it from the Huskies. Nirra Fields and Monique Billings right behind her with 13. Billings again dominated down low with a team high 13 rebounds.