No. 9 UCLA women ride big 2nd half to 82-55 win over Pacific
LOS ANGELES (AP) Pacific kept it close in the first half against the No. 9 UCLA women.
Then the Bruins clamped down defensively in the third quarter when they shot 68 percent on their way to an 82-55 season-opening victory Friday night.
Monique Billings had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Jordin Canada just missed a triple-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Bruins. Oklahoma transfer Nicole Kornet had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Kennedy Burke added 10 points.
''The good news is we sort of had a maturity about we have to grind this out,'' UCLA coach Cori Close said. ''If you're going to have a bad shooting night, you have to rely on your defense.''
UCLA forced 16 steals and blocked 12 shots, led by Billings with five.
Desire Finnie led Pacific with 17 points and GeAnna Luaulu-Summers added 14 points, making all six of her free throws. She had five of the Tigers' 26 turnovers, which led to 25 points by the Bruins. They had 21 turnovers.
''It was frustrating,'' Luaulu-Summers said. ''We couldn't get a bucket. Our turnovers really killed us.''
UCLA rallied to take a 38-32 lead at halftime after starting the game 8 of 23 from the floor.
The Tigers got to 42-38 early in the third on a 3-pointer by Jessica Blakeslee.
That's when UCLA took over. The Bruins shot 68 percent from the floor and outscored the Tigers 33-12 in the period.
''We got punched in the mouth and it was time for us to punch back,'' Billings said.
She and Canada had six points each in a 28-6 run that closed the third. The Bruins' defense stepped up, too, limiting the Tigers to 29 percent shooting while getting nine stops in a row.
''They did a good job of rebounding the ball and we got a little bit undisciplined with what we were doing,'' Tigers coach Bradley Davis said. ''They did turn it on there in the third.''
It was the second blowout of a Tigers team in the same night. Earlier, the No. 16 UCLA men routed Pacific 119-80 in their season opener.
Pacific: Last season, the Tigers' opponents averaged 18.2 points in the third quarter. The Bruins upped that number considerably.
UCLA: It was the Bruins' 400th home victory in program history. They've recorded 363 at Pauley Pavilion and 37 in the John R. Wooden Center. Close needs one win to reach 100 starting her sixth season.
Burke played in all 35 games last season as a freshman, averaging 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds.
She did a little bit of everything against the Tigers, hitting a 3-pointer, making 3 of 4 free throws, getting two rebounds and three assists.
''We used to call her the secret weapon,'' Billings said. ''She comes in and brings so much energy and a spark.''
The Bruins are starting the season with their highest ranking since they were sixth to begin the 1999 season.
Pacific: Host UC Merced on Sunday.
UCLA: Visit second-ranked Baylor on Monday in an early season showdown.