Two words can best describe the UCLA Women’s Basketball team in their marquee game versus the sixth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Saturday at the John Wooden Center on campus:
When your opponent makes their first eight shots from the field and 18 of their first 20 field goal attempts, shooting 76% in the first half and 69.2% for the game, there’s not much you can do and it really doesn’t matter what kind of defense you throw at them.
That’s exactly what Pat Summit’s Lady Vols did in front of a sellout crowd of 2,025 at the Wooden Center as with Cori Close’s team wearing throwback uniforms from the 1978 season – the only time a UCLA women’s hoops team won a national championship – every Tennessee starter scored in double figures, led by Meighan Simmons’ 18 points and Glory Johnson’s 17, as the Lady Vols comfortably beat UCLA 85-64.
It was Summitt’s 1,078th win, the only coach in NCAA basketball, male or female, to have 1,000, and it was Tennessee’s 18th triumph in 19 games against the Bruins all-time. Despite having early-onset Alzheimer’s, she is currently in her 38th year as head coach of the Lady Vols and as evidenced by their win, shows no signs of slowing down.
UCLA is now 5-4 on the season.
“Their shooting percentage in the first half was pretty incredible,” Close said. “Our goal as a defensive team is to force them to take one hard shot. They made them.”
Rebekah Gardner was the biggest bright spot for the UCLA ladies, as she scored a career-high 24 points on nine-of-18 shooting, including five of nine from the three-point arc.
Markel Walker and Thea Lemberger each tallied 11 points, but the Lady Vols pretty much contained Atonye Nyingifa as she had ten points in the contest, six below her season average.
Another bright spot was the fact that the Bruins out-rebounded Tennessee 31-28, and beat them on the offensive boards 19-4.
That will bode well for their games this week against St. Joseph’s and Temple in Philadelphia, as well as against California and fourth-ranked Stanford in the Wooden Center to begin Pac-12 conference play next week.