No. 10 UCLA tops 18th-ranked Arizona in battle of unbeatens
LOS ANGELES (AP) — UCLA coach Cori Close had some good news to go along with bad news for her basketball team at halftime.
The Bruins had 10 turnovers, missed 9 of 13 free throws and weren’t getting to all the loose balls and tracking down rebounds. The good news was they were tied with Arizona at halftime and could correct those deficiencies. That’s exactly what happened.
Michaela Onyenwere scored 18 points and added 13 rebounds to lead No. 10 UCLA to a 70-58 win over 18th-ranked Arizona in a matchup that featured undefeated teams Sunday.
UCLA extended its best start in program history to 14-0 and is first in the Pac-12 at 3-0.
Chantel Horvat and Charisma Osborne each added 10 points.
Aari McDonald had 19 points for Arizona (13-1, 2-1 Pac-12) and Cate Reese added 10.
The Bruins and Wildcats were tied at halftime at 31, but UCLA pulled away early in the third quarter and it was never close again.
“I was really concerned about our rebounding and toughness and turnovers,” Close said. “What I said at halftime was, ‘we did that to ourselves, and it’s a tie game. We’re one of the top assist-turnover teams in the nation and we were six assist and 10 turnovers. It was very uncharacteristic. … The good news is it’s in your control too shift it and change it, and they did.”
Point guard Japreece Dean had just two points and four turnovers in the first half. She finished with nine points and just one turnover in the second half.
The Bruins played sloppy early but cleaned things up by the second half. The teams were tied at 31 at halftime but UCLA went on a 16-5 run to start the third quarter and led 47-36, the first double-digit lead of the game. UCLA had four 3-pointers in that run by four players. Arizona’s offense went cold from the field.
“The third quarter just crushed us,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said.
It certainly looked like a noon tipoff as UCLA had 10 turnovers – and just six assists – and was 4 of 13 from the free throw line by halftime. The Bruins shot 37% from the field, and Arizona just 33%.
Arizona finished the first quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 17-14 lead. In the third quarter, Arizona had a difficult time running its offense as it had done in the first half. The Wildcats shot just two free throws in the first half and its three frontcourt players – Sam Thomas, Reese and Semaj Smith – had a combined seven personal fouls in the first half. Smith fouled out in the fourth quarter.
It was that third quarter, in which UCLA outscored Arizona 28-13, that changed the game.
“At halftime we spoke about toughness and hustling after every single play,” Horvat said. “We needed to make sure we were aggressive in rebounding and getting to every single loose ball.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
UCLA could move up in the polls this week, as it heads out for its first conference road games of the season. The Bruins’ undefeated season will be tested at Utah, then Colorado.
“I get to go home, which is nice, to Colorado” said Onyenwere, who is from Aurora, Colo. “Going on the road is always hard and you play in hostile environments and there’s other distractions. We were good on the road last year, and I think we’re going to keep doing that this year.”
ARIZONA: The Wildcats strong start shouldn’t be deterred by their first loss, but they’ll need to be more disciplined in taking better fouls.
UCLA: The Bruins can’t keep having slow starts and expect to recover. They’ll need to clean up all those unforced errors poor free throw shooting.
ARIZONA: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.
UCLA: Plays at Utah on Friday.