A record 20 game winning streak for the UCLA Bruins against Pac-12 opponents at home was broken by the Oregon Ducks with a 70-61 victory over the home team inside Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Jan. 7.
“There was a lot of frustrating parts about that [game],” said UCLA coach Cori Close. “We missed 10 free throws. We missed open shots in what we call the war zone. We struggled against their zone; they slowed us down and controlled our pace of play.”
The Ducks opened up with a 9-0 run against the Bruins to start the first quarter. UCLA earned its first basket more than three minutes into the game. By the end of the first quarter the Bruins cut the lead to three points, trailing 11-8.
“It just shows the heart of this team and the fight that we have; that no matter what, we’re going to keep fighting when we’re up, we’re down, it doesn’t matter,” said senior guard Jordin Canada.
As the second quarter wound down, UCLA’s offense found some rhythm but not enough to erase the deficit. At halftime, the Ducks led UCLA 27-23. The Bruins were 0/5 from the three-point line in the first half.
UCLA outscored the Ducks 11-4 to start the third quarter. Monique Billings led the way for the Bruins with 22 points and 10 rebounds. It was the 37th career double-double for Billings, and the fourth in the past five games.
“We’ve been in this situation many times before; we’ve hit adversity,” said Canada who added 19 points and six assists. “It’s just all about staying together.”
A three-pointer by Japreece Dean gave the Bruins their first lead of the game with 6:38 left in the third quarter. The Bruins held that lead until the fourth quarter when Lexi Bando hit a game changing three-pointer.
“A wide open three-pointer for Bando is like a layup for most people; she does not miss many,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of Bando, who has the best active career three-point shooting percentage in the NCAA at .457.
That shot gave the Ducks a 63-59 lead. It sparked a 14-2 run for Oregon to close out the game.
“That sealed the game … made us really pumped up,” said Ruthy Hebard, Ducks forward. “We knew that she wanted [the ball]; it was a really good way to close out the game.” Hebard totaled 19 points and seven rebounds.
With this win against UCLA, Oregon is off to its best start in Pac-12 play (4-0) since 2001. In spite of the offensive lapses, the game was closer than what those runs suggest. There were six lead changes and the Bruins led with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“We just need to keep growing from every single game,” said Billings. This was UCLA’s third consecutive ranked opponent since conference play started.
“There’s this intensity, it’s like March,” said coach Close. “I think the intensity of these four games to start out will pay dividends down the road.” The Bruins were able to pull out wins against California and Oregon State.
“Two out of three is cool, but three out of three would’ve been better,” Billings added.
UCLA falls to 2-2 in Pac-12 play and will travel to play Utah on Friday.