Los Angeles – What was supposed to be a tough matchup between two closely-ranked teams turned into a one-sided affair Friday, as No. 14 UCLA pounded No. 16 Oregon State, 84-49.
Monique Billings led five Bruins in double figures with 19 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Michaela Onyenwere had 12 points and Jordin Canada and Japreece Dean each had 11. Canada also added six assists and four rebounds.
In their first home game in over a month, UCLA took control from tipoff with suffocating full-court defense that kept the Beavers from scoring a field goal until the 7:06 mark of the first quarter. They continued their assault in the second period, this time led by reserves, as Dean scored eight points and freshman Onyenwere put up six. A three-pointer by Dean at the buzzer gave the Bruins a 40-21 halftime advantage.
The third quarter saw the hosts pad their lead to 37, and in the fourth period they had a 40-point lead twice, as UCLA coach Cori Close systematically rotated players in and out. The Bruins’ bench outscored Oregon State’s, 36-16; they outrebounded them, 42-31; and they had 23 assists to the Beaver’s 13. UCLA had four turnovers going into the fourth quarter, and had a season-low nine to finish the game.
Close said the team depth she foresaw last fall is coming to fruition, and it is showing in the Bruin’s defense and team play.
“It wasn’t easy (earlier in the year) to find rhythms and sub enough where we could play that kind of defense and also keep us in a rhythm offensively, but we’re starting to get it,” she said. “Having a bench that not only comes in and give you a punch is good, but you have to have selflessness and determination. To have a 6-10 (players) is going to be huge down the stretch.”
Close said the proficiency of the Beavers made them a hard team to face. She was most pleased about her team’s ability to outrebound.
“Our identity is starting to round the corner to pressure defense, rebounding the basketball and unselfishly sharing the ball on the offensive end,” Close said.
Oregon State shot 41 percent on the night and only 16.7 percent from the three-point line, as they were never able to get into an offensive flow. Coach Scott Rueck said UCLA’s defense was the difference for his young team.
“Their initial on-ball pressure just against the point guard disrupts you, and they disrupted us most of the night, kept us on our heels and kept us off our spots and out of our sets,” he said. “There was nothing easy. And for us, we’re relatively inexperienced, and this is the most athleticism we’ve seen all year. They got more aggressive as we went and we got a little bit more passive. We needed to get comfortable and we just couldn’t.”
Marie Gulich led the Beavers with 16 points, while Taya Corosdale added 10.
Oregon State faces USC Sunday, while the 11-3 Bruins host No. 9 Oregon. UCLA’s most recent loss, to Stanford last week, taught them something.
“We have a very similar game plan (for Oregon),” Close said. “We need to not think so much that we’re not able to play with the aggression that we know we can.”