There was some good news and some very disappointing news on the Bruin-sports-not-on-the-gridiron-and-the-men’s-basketball-court, so let’s just get to it…
MEN’S WATER POLO: First the football team gets humiliated by USC 50-0, now this.
UCLA’s men’s water polo team lost to USC in the NCAA Championship Game at UC Berkeley, 7-4, on Sunday. It was the Trojans’ fourth straight title and the second time the Bruins lost to the Trojans in the championship game, as they were beaten by the crosstown rivals in 2009.
While it may not have been nearly as big a blowout as the football game between the two schools, this puts a bit of salt in those wounds as ‘SC scored five straight goals after UCLA took an early 1-0 lead, led 6-2 in the third quarter, and coasted from there.
The Bruins finished at 24-5, their highest win total since 2004, but to be quite frank it doesn’t seem to mean as much when it doesn’t result in a championship. Especially when you lose the title to your crosstown rival whom you desperately want to beat.
Overall, a most disappointing finish.
MEN’S SOCCER: There was much better news in the collegiate version of the world’s most popular game as UCLA beat Louisville, 1-0, at Louisville, KY in double overtime to advance to their first College Cup – soccer’s version of the Final Four – since 2006.
Reed Williams scored the golden goal in the 102nd minute for the 13th seeded Bruins.
Their defense, particularly their goalie Brian Rowe, has been lights out as they haven’t allowed a goal in 748 consecutive minutes, dating back to this past October. Since defense wins games, that’s undoubtedly been a significant factor in this success.
The Bruins, coached by Jorge Salcedo, are now 18-4-1 on the year, but they next have to face the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA Semi-Finals this Friday, December 9, in Hoover, AL – a big challenge to be sure if they want to win the school’s 108th national championship.
If they get past North Carolina, they will face either UNC Charlotte or Creighton for the title on Sunday, December 11.
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Mike Sealy’s ladies have done well in the NCAA tournament to date, winning the first two rounds at the John Wooden Center to advance to the regional semifinals.
They started their quest for the championship on December 3 with a three-set sweep of Maryland-Eastern Shore, and followed up the next night by beating San Diego in four sets in the second round to put themselves at 26-6 on the season.
They will face Penn State (yes, THAT Penn State) in the regional semis – also known as the Elite Eight – on Friday, December 9 in Lexington, KY for a spot in the Final Four.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Unlike their male counterparts, Cori Close’s team has been winning and playing solidly in the process.
They got a big win over Loyola Marymount this past Sunday night at LMU’s Gersten Pavilion, 84-43, for their third straight win. Atonye Nyingifa has been a complete stud for the Bruins, scoring a career-best 28 point in the win over the Lions while grabbing a personal-best 14 rebounds, while Thea Lemberger added 15 points, also a career-best, and Mariah Williams had 13 in the rout.
Four days before, on November 30, these Bruins got a well-earned win over San Diego State at John Wooden Center, 78-71, with Nyingifa and Rebekah Gardner each passing the 20 point mark, Nyingifa scoring 21 points with 11 rebounds and Gardner getting 20 with eight boards.
Now sitting at 5-2 overall, which is the opposite of the men’s team, UCLA will next go to Baton Rouge, LA and face LSU and former Bruin head coach Nikki Caldwell, who now leads the Tigers, on Tuesday, December 13.
As Caldwell knows these Lady Bruins quite well and will plan and strategize accordingly, it will be a challenge for them to get this win on the road.