UCLA sophomore guard Kiki Rice (1) scored 20 points against Cal Baptist (TGsportstv1)

The UCLA Women’s basketball team made their presence well known in the opening round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament Saturday defeating 15th-seeded Cal Baptist 84-55. The Bruins were led by sophomore guard Kiki Rice with 20 points and 19 points from sophomore guard Gabrielle Jaquez helped secure the first-round victory.

Rice acknowledged the competitiveness the Lancers showcased and how efficient UCLA had to be to come out victorious.

“Definitely was a fast, physical game. They have a lot of quick guards and they play like basically five guards the entire time, so we knew we would have to really get out in the perimeter and be ready to defend,” Rice said. (Espn.com)

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The Bruins were favored to win coming into the game against Cal Baptist. UCLA started off fast leading at the end of the first quarter 17-8.  Cal Baptist struggled offensively in the beginning of the game going 3-18 from the field but managed to find a rhythm midway through the second quarter. At one point in the second quarter, the Lancers made it a one-possession ball game. Despite Cal Baptist making a run, UCLA managed to hold on to their lead going into halftime 34-22.

UCLA continued their dominance in the second half increasing their lead to 22 points late in the third quarter. Although the Lancers were down, they continued to battle to the very end. The Bruins would close out the quarter strong, leading 57-38, and continued to stay in control going into the fourth quarter.  Sophomore forward Christeen Iwuala would seal the deal late for UCLA scoring eight crucial points to add to their margin. Her scores allowed the Bruins to calmly finish the game and reserve a second-round opportunity in the tournament.

Cal Baptist was led by senior forward Kinsley Barrington scoring 16 points and senior guard Nae Nae Calhoun adding 12 points.

Cal Baptist Head Coach Jarrod Olson recognized how much of an impact Gabrielle Jaquez had on the success of UCLA winning the game.

“Just the hustle plays and she really sparked them. Just defensively she’s really tough, especially because we’re not super big either. You just added another elite defender to an elite defensive team, so it was a tough night for us in that way.” (Espn.com)

The Bruins will face seventh-seeded Creighton Monday in the second round.