It looked like it was going to be a game for a few minutes.
The San Diego Torreadors came out strong and beat UCLA to the basket and to the ball, over and over. Their bigs moved well for being bigs, and for a little while it was looking like USD players had lived with their strength and conditioning coaches all summer long. They put the first five points on the board, lead 13-6 for a while, and then 17-12 at 15:46. But then, thanks to buckets by three of their four star players for the day, the Bruins began a comeback.
Doreena Campbell hit a jumper, and on the next play Nina Earl went in to the basket for two. Right after that, forward Christina Nzekwe had a pretty move under the hoop and got fouled for the and-one. Another Nzekwe play for two was followed by an Earl layup and a Campbell jumpshot. Ahead 29-23 at 9:20, the Bruins never looked back.
Campbell ended up with 18 points, eight assists, one block and two steals. Earl poured in 17 points and Nzekwe, 11. Guard Darxia Morris added 15 points and five assists.
“All in all, it was a good performance even though we started out shaky,” Coach Nikki Caldwell said. “We went back to our defensive principles, and taking pride in our defense leads to scoring in transition.”
With a 7-1 record, UCLA is off to its best start in 28 years.
Today’s scoring was a bit less balanced than usual, and the Bruins pulled down a season-low 36 rebounds. But they also committed a season-low 14 turnovers – something Caldwell mentioned in her post-game interview. UCLA also shot 59.6 percent for the game, which I don’t recall them doing this season yet either.
Is Caldwell trying to get Pac-10 coach of the year or something? She’s making a good case so far.
Apparently she kicked off her shoes in the second half and was pacing the sidelines in her bare feet – something we can’t see because we sit behind the bench. But shoes or not she is working on her glare, and it’s coming along nicely. At one timeout she leaned over all five seated players and admonished them sternly to box out better and go up for boards.
“Ya got me? Quit playing so soft!” she said, voice slightly raised.
We giggled. It’s really cool to see a real coach in action.
Only one Bruin didn’t score today in Candice Brown, who was limping in the first half. All of Allison Taka’s nine minutes were in the last portion of the second half, and she made the most of them, putting up nine points that included a beautiful three-shot from the corner in front of her own bench. As she released the ball, a man sitting in the end zone seats yelled, “Taka!” The rock sailed through the net to screams.
Every game brings more people, and today was no exception. In addition, the end zone was filled with cheerleaders there to perform at halftime. I bet someday soon those seats will be filled with more fans.
The player whose name is most fun to say is Antonye Nyingifa (Ning-gi-fuh). Fortunately she scored seven points, made three assists and stole the ball three times today, which gave me lots of opportunities to repeat her name after the announcer did.
Bring it on, Kansas. We ready.