Billings paces No. 10 UCLA to 87-74 win over No. 20 Colorado

Monique Billings had 27 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists against Colorado. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.
Monique Billings had 27 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists against Colorado. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.

Los Angeles, Calif. – Monique Billings put up 27 points and grabbed 18 rebounds Sunday to guide No. 10 UCLA past No. 20 Colorado, 87-74.

Her point total tied a career high, and her performance marked her eighth double-double of the season and the 18th of her career. She also had four blocks and four assists. Jordin Canada added 22 points and Kennedy Burke and Kari Korver had 13 and 11, respectively, for UCLA. It was their second Pac 12 win, while the Buffs fell to 0-2 in conference play.

The Bruins used stifling full court defense to render Colorado leading scorer Kennedy Leonard scoreless for the first half, for the first time this season. The hosts lead by 13 at halftime and 18 at the end of the third quarter, and inflated that margin to as much as 20 in the final period. The Buffs then went on a 15-5 run to narrow the UCLA lead to 10 with two minutes to play. A steal, two buckets and a free throw by Canada helped seal the win for the Bruins down the stretch.

Haley Smith drives for two of her 31 points on the day. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.
Haley Smith drives for two of her 31 points on the day. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.

It was the second consecutive game that a large UCLA lead evaporated a bit in the fourth quarter. Coach Cori Close said the team would address the issue before heading to Washington to play this weekend.

“It’s not sustained concentration,” Close said. “We have a tendency to get a lead…..and lose our concentration for a bit.”

Close said she liked the Bruins’ energy, and was pleased with both Billings and team play.

“I’m proud of Mo – she did what she needed to in every way,” Close said. “I’m also proud of the entire team, because they did what they needed to do to help get the ball in her hands.”

Jordin Canada scores two on the fast break. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.
Jordin Canada scores two on the fast break. Photo by Marvin Jimenez/TGTVsports1.

Colorado has lost three straight, but first-year coach JR Payne said she was happy with her team’s fight.

“I’m unbelievably proud of our resilience,” Payne said. “We were down 20 on the home court of the No. 10 team in the country, and we never gave up. It was a great team effort and I’m proud of how we played.”

Haley Smith had 31 points for the Buffs, and Leonard had 11 second-half points.