Being that the coach of the LSU Tigers’ Women’s Basketball team was the head coach of the UCLA Bruins’ Women’s Basketball team from 2008-2011, thus knowing the UCLA players and their strengths and weaknesses, I can’t say that I’m surprised at what transpired in Baton Rouge, LA when UCLA faced that SEC school.
Though guard Markel Walker returned from thumb surgery, scoring 11 points, LSU took advantage of ten Bruin turnovers in the game’s first ten minutes, led 30-20 at halftime, and never looked back as they beat UCLA rather convincingly, 58-41.
Cori Close’s two standout players, Atone Nyingifa and Rebekah Garner, were pretty much contained by the Tigers as Nyingifa scored a mere six points and Gardner eight, both way under their 16 points a game each.
“The advantage was on LSU’s side because their emotions were on their staff while ours were with our players’” Close said after the game.
I think the fact that the game was held in Baton Rouge, which along with the rest of the SEC is a hostile environment to opponents, played a part in this loss as well.
The Bruins shooting poorly in the second half – and committing a total of 24 turnovers for the game – doomed them as they now stand at 5-3 with a potentially epic showdown against one of the iconic teams in women’s college sports – the sixth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers – with perhaps the most successful female coach of all time, Pat Summit, Sports Illustrated’s reigning Sportswoman of the Year, coming to the John Wooden Center this Saturday.
If UCLA is to have any chance at an upset, they need to clean up their shooting and handling of the ball in practice this week.
In fact, it is urgent that they do so. Otherwise – and I hate to say this – Summit and her Lady Vols will crucify them.