The UCLA Bruins gained the title “Best in LA” with the team’s second win in four days against their crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans at the Galen Center on Feb. 5.
“This rivalry just makes me think about legacy, all the players that have come before me at UCLA and at USC –– trying to represent for them and trying to play hard for the city,” said UCLA senior forward Monique Billings. “It’s like who runs LA, and I think UCLA women’s basketball did this season.”
Billings scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds as she notched her 41st career double-double in the Bruins’ eighth consecutive win. Billings and senior point guard Jordin Canada each scored 18 points to lead UCLA to an 84-70 victory over USC.
“They’re the No. 8 team in the country for a reason,” said USC head coach Mark Trakh.
UCLA came out to a 9-0 lead broken up by a three-point play by USC’s junior forward Marguerite Effa. The Trojans trailed 26-20 to end the first quarter.
Aliyah Mazyck hit a three-pointer followed by a jumpshot to put the Trojans within three points of the Bruins, 28-25. Mazyck scored a team-best 21 points for the Trojans.
USC was outrebounded 26-16 in the first half leading to 11 second chance points for the Bruins. After trailing by as much as 14 points in the third quarter, USC then cut the deficit to five with a buzzer beater three-pointer by USC senior Kristen Simon.
Simon, USC’s leading scorer finished with 12 points in just 16 minutes due to foul trouble and injury. She headed to the bench with 7:11 minutes left in the fourth quarter after she fouled out.
USC came within one point of the Bruins after Minyon Moore split a pair of free throws (69-68).
“I think that in both games we fought really hard,” said Moore, a sophomore guard. “At any second we could come back and we can work hard. I think that we just got into a little bit of foul trouble.”
USC forward Jordan Adams also fouled out in the fourth quarter for the Trojans. That one point deficit was the closest the Trojans would get before UCLA went on a 10-0 run.
Canada anchored her team to seal the win with five made free throws in the last two minutes of the game to complete a 15-2 run by the Bruins.
“I’ve got really good players, specifically really good guard play,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said. “Guards really control those end-game situations.”
“She kind of turned it up a bit,” coach Trakh added.
The Trojans only had eight players appear in the rivalry game against UCLA. Due to injuries and a few transfers, the team currently has nine scholarship players available.
“They’re not very deep, they’re competitive though,” Close remarked of the shorthanded Trojans.
UCLA never trailed in the game. With the win against the Trojans, UCLA (19-4 overall, 10-2 in the Pac-12) moved into first place in the Pac-12 standings, a three-way tie with Oregon and Stanford.
“We’re in a great position right now,” forward Lajahna Drummer said. “I think we have a lot more to do. We’re not finished yet.”