No. 16 UCLA 66, UC Santa Barbara 52

The UCLA Bruins have a simple goal in mind this season – force
turnovers, and lots of them.

Jasmine Dixon and Markel Walker scored 12 points apiece to lead
a balanced attack and No. 15 UCLA showed its defensive prowess in a
66-52 win over UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.

”That’s our game plan every time,” Dixon said. ”We feed off
turnovers.”

Darxia Morris and Atonye Nyingifa each finished with 10 points
for the Bruins (2-0), who employed full-court defensive pressure to
force 23 turnovers. The Bruins got 14 steals, with six players
recording two apiece.

”Each of us was getting hyped on the turnovers we were
making,” Dixon said. ”It’s like a domino effect.”

And the plan worked accordingly against the overmatched Gauchos,
who failed to deal with the Bruins’ intensity on the defensive
end.

”This team is a team that relies heavily on defensive
pressure,” UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said. ”I thought our
starters did a good job of establishing that defensive
pressure.”

That pressure was evident as UCLA put on the clamps defensively
to open the second half, using an 18-0 run that was capped by
Doreena Campbell’s 3-pointer. The scoreless span lasted over five
minutes and helped the Bruins to a 55-26 advantage.

The Gauchos hit a 3-pointer coming out of the half but managed
just one other basket until Emile Johnson’s layup broke their
drought at the 12:20 mark.

”If you want to beat a Top 25 team, you can’t go scoreless for
five minutes,” Johnson said.

UCLA hung on from there, emptying the bench and playing mostly
reserves the rest of the way to win its home opener.

Johnson led the way with 14 points UCSB (0-2), which fell to
2-12 all-time against UCLA. The Gauchos turned the ball over 14
times in the opening half and managed just 10 assists for the
game.

”I feel like on our end, we were sloppy,” UCSB coach Lindsay
Gottlieb said. ”But UCLA is going to force a lot of teams into
turnovers.”

Unlike their season opener on Friday night when they fell behind
early and trailed at halftime before coming back for a win over San
Diego State, the Bruins played out in front for most of this
one.

UCLA scored eight straight points, including five from Walker,
midway through the first half to go ahead by nine points. They lead
31-21 at halftime.