No. 8 UCLA rolls to 76-40 victory over Presbyterian
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the toughest back-to-back of the season awaiting UCLA, coach Cori Close wasn’t impressed with another blowout victory.
Monique Billings scored 12 points, Kennedy Burke added 11, and the No. 8 Bruins routed Presbyterian 76-40 on Sunday. Close saw plenty for her team to work on.
“I’m disappointed about our effort. I didn’t think we were focused,” she said. “We’re going to have to respond with some more consistent habits.”
The Bruins (2-0) were coming off a 60-point win against San Jose State in their opener, and they had their way with the Blue Hose (0-2) from the opening tip.
Burke scored all of her points in the first half, when UCLA opened the game on a 12-0 run and shot 47 percent. The Blue Hose missed 18 of 22 shots over the first two quarters.
Cortney Storey was the only Blue Hose in double figures with a game-high 18 points. She made four 3-pointers for the 1,100-student school from South Carolina.
“I was frustrated in the first half. It is hard to come in here and say you’re going to play better than UCLA,” Storey said. “At first I was scared to go in there, they’re so big and you don’t want to get your shot blocked.”
But she and her teammates got more aggressive in the fourth quarter, when they were outscored 18-15.
“We weren’t trying to win the game at that point, we were trying to win that quarter,” Blue Hose coach Todd Steelman said.
The Bruins had an 11-0 spurt in the second quarter, when the Blue Hose made just two field goals and were held to seven points.
UCLA used its height advantage to create havoc on defense, double-teaming shooters and grabbing loose balls. The Bruins owned a 48-8 scoring edge in the paint.
Five of the Bruins’ freshmen gained valuable minutes, led by Chantel Horvat with 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Early in the fourth quarter, Burke was the only starter on the floor with the freshmen.
“I have to communicate with them a lot because obviously they don’t know everything yet,” Burke said. “Just keep encouraging them.”
The Bruins don’t play again until Saturday, giving them all week to focus on No. 3 Baylor.
“It’s not about our competition and our opponents,” Billings said. “We need to consistently play the same game, become a stronger unit.”
UCLA guard Jordin Canada finished with six points in 13 minutes. She didn’t play at all in the fourth. Close said Canada is dealing with “some nagging things.”
PLAYING IN PAULEY
Like a lot of visitors, Storey was impressed at playing in Pauley Pavilion, where UCLA’s record 11 national championship men’s basketball banners hang in the rafters.
“I wanted to do the best I could and have a memory to hold onto,” she said.
UCLA has overwhelmed its first two opponents. That’s unlikely to be the case with the next two: No. 3 Baylor and top-ranked UConn. Two tough opponents in a row should give the Bruins an indication of where they stand among the nation’s top teams in the early going. “It’s a great opportunity,” Close said. “We have really high aspirations to compete at the highest level, but our season isn’t determined by these next two games.”
Presbyterian fell to 0-2 in its season-opening West Coast trip, just like last season. The Blue Hose figure to have some bumps as they work to integrate eight newcomers, including seven freshmen, to go with just three returnees from a team that went 13-18 last season.
Presbyterian: Plays its third of four straight road games to open the season, visiting USC Upstate on Wednesday.
UCLA: Hosts No. 3 Baylor on Saturday, followed three days later by No. 1 UConn in the Bruins’ toughest back-to-back of the season.
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