Junior guard Jules Bernard (1) scored two points and four rebounds (Suzi Mellano / UCLA Athletics)

After losing their first game of the season UCLA won their fourth straight game improving to 4-1 on the season in a convincing 27 point 83-56 victory over the University of San Diego. 

“This year we’re a lot deeper and guys got a little older,” said Bruins Head Coach Mick Cronin about his team. 

The contest marked the start of the ‘20-’21 campaign after the Toreros’ season was delayed with a 14-day pause to all activities due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program. The Bruins have gone 4-1 in the all-time series against San Diego.

The Toreros returned two starters from their 2019-20 squad giving the upper hand to the Bruins bringing back all five starters from last season. 

With 7:26 in the first half Cody Riley’s layup extended UCLA to a 22-15 lead to gaining the first momentum for the Bruins in the game prompting a Toreros timeout. 

The Bruins defense held San Diego to six second chance points and five fast break points (Suzi Mellano / UCLA Athletics)

Out of the timeout with 6:25 left in the first half Jake Kyman immediately drilled back to back jumpers for the Bruins. The Bruins jumped out to a quick 11 point 26-15 lead in the blink of an eye forcing yet another Toreros timeout. 

The experienced Bruins roster gained control of a tight first half leading 33-23 at the break. A staple of UCLA’s success this season has been their defense. The Bruins shot 39 percent in the first half while limiting the Toreros to 26 percent in the half. 

“Our main focus for the entire game is defense and stopping them from putting the ball in the basket,” said Jaime Jaquez Jr on the team’s focus and mindset. 

The depth of the Bruins was clearly evident with 14 big points off the bench to San Diego’s five points helping gain a lead heading into the break. 

Mick Cronin’s team ramped up the intensity keeping the foot on the pedal in the second half. 

Junior Cody Riley (2) scored 11 points and 10 rebounds (Suzi Mellano / UCLA Athletics)

Johnny Juzang hung in mid air nailing a floater while fouled to convert the three point play increasing the lead to 53-36 with just over ten minutes to play in the second half. 

Jaquez Jr put the game out of reach with a deep three pointer and a 20 point lead for the Bruins, 69-49, with just under four minutes left in regulation. Jaquez Jr was on fire scoring 17 points on three three-pointers. 

“We’re trying to be better than we were last year,” emphasized Jaquez Jr. “ Keep on this path of growth and being a better team.”

Jaquez Jr. is a former standout at Camarillo High School shooting 54.3 percent from the field in four games while making 7 of 17 attempts from three point distance. Through games played on Sunday, Dec. 6, Jaquez led all Pac-12 players in minutes played per game (37.8).

Sophomore Johnny Juzang scored 10 points and three rebound (Suzi Mellano / UCLA Athletics)

The Bruins had five players in double figures and dominated off the bench with 29 points. Shooting 46 percent to San Diego’s 31 percent was a key factor in the victory. 

“Our bench is a big part of it,” said Cronin. “We have multiple guys that can start.” 

UCLA is on a roll to start off the season and will have a tough test in their next opponent the Marquette Golden Eagles who are also 4-1, Friday at Pauley Pavillion.