The UCLA women’s basketball team stormed past the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament to go to war against the Uconn Huskies in the Sweet 16.
The Bruins handled the Texas A&M in a 75-43 rout in the second round. It was the largest margin of victory for the Bruins in their NCAA tournament history.
Three Texas A&M players tied at 10 points and sophomore center Khaalia Hillsman made six rebounds. Senior guard Kari Korver scored 21 points, while two Bruins earned five rebounds each.
UCLA made three three-point shots in the first two minutes. Steals and blocks by the Bruins stunted the Aggies. The first quarter ended with UCLA having control with a 22-9 advantage.
In the second period, early steals and a block by junior forward Monique Billings came to the Bruins advantage. UCLA was 8 of 18 from the three-point line compared to the Aggies, who were 1 of 7. By halftime, the Bruins still led 42-21 over the Aggies.
“We were just slow moving on the pass,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. “They did a great job of rotating and they knew where to find Korver and we just didn’t cover out.”
Texas A&M made their 16th turnover by the third quarter. Hillsman and junior forward Jasmine Lumpkin had foul troubles. Meanwhile, UCLA added 20 points.
In the first round, it was the Aggies’ fourth quarter rally that gave them the win, but they were battling against a 31-point lead by UCLA. Their defense began to rev up, but it was too late to contest the Bruins.
The ability to set the pace early for their second round game mimicked the Bruins’ 15-0 run at the start of their first round game against Boise State.
On Saturday, UCLA demolished the Boise State Broncos 83-56. Prior to the match up, UCLA head coach Cori Close talked about how the Bruins squad’s commitment to one another has been a key asset.
“It’s really hard to go to war for someone you don’t really know and care about,” Close said. “And I think it’s really our versatility. We’re getting really different contributions from different people on a fairly consistent basis.”
Billings led the offense with 19 points and sophomore guard Kennedy Burke grabbed 10 rebounds for the Bruins.
Broncos redshirt sophomore center Marijke Vanderschaaf grabbed nine rebounds, two guards tied with 13 points.
It was a historical game for Junior guard Jordin Canada, who matched the Bruins’ single-game assist record with 16.
“My shooters, they’re great shooters, so that’s what I tell them every single time no matter if it goes in or out,” Canada said about the assist record. “I tell my post players just keep going inside, and that’s what I did tonight.”
UCLA owned the first four minutes of the game. Sophomore guard Marta Hermida and freshmen guard Riley Lupfer responded to bring the Broncos with nine points.
“They shot the three extremely, extremely well and they got really established and the point guard kind of took over,” said Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell. “Those three things kind of knocked us out.”
Although they made more shots in the second quarter, the Broncos shot at 31 percent compared to UCLA’s 57 percent. The Bruins remained dominant with a 44-27 lead over Boise State by halftime.
“I’m really proud of my team for having that focus and coming out as the aggressor.” Billings said.
The Bruins showed superiority on both ends on the floor with a pair of layups and steals early in the third quarter. Boise State’s deficit had ballooned by as much as 22 points.
The Bronco offense went on hiatus for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bruins poured in four points in that time. UCLA then went on a 15-9 run in the last 6 minutes of regulation.