UCLA Athletics: Bruins Look to Finish Off USC Sweep Week on Sunday


Tony Parker (23), Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This is what every week should feel like for fans of UCLA athletics.

The Bruins have been dominating on every kind of court and field, as the various UCLA teams have combined for a 9-3 record in this fateful February week. But we’re used to winning in Westwood, so what’s so special about this seven-day stretch?

Well, how about a perfect 3-0 record on the road at hated rival Southern Cal? Yeah, that’s music to my ears.

It all started on Monday night when the No. 7 UCLA men’s volleyball team swept past No. 9 USC, 3-0, on the hardwood at the Galen Center. The key stat of the Bruins’ commanding road win was the ace count, which favored UCLA by a stunning 7-0 mark. The superb play from the service line lifted the Bruins back into the top-half of the MPSF standings and dropped the Trojans into second-to-last place.

The volleyball victory was the first in a sequence of home losses for USC athletics, the second of which came a night later in the very same building.

On Tuesday night, the No. 16/17 UCLA women’s basketball team bested the Women of Troy, 68-54, in a game at Galen. The Bruins were heavy favorites to defeat USC, but that didn’t prevent them from coming out with the fire and passion needed for a big win.

Atonye Nyingifa (11), Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA forward Atonye Nyingifa led all scorers with 22 points on 11-0f-14 shooting, a season-high in scoring for the junior from Torrance. The triumph over the Trojans lifted UCLA’s record to 20-6 on the season, and kept the Bruins locked with Washington for a third-place tie in the Pac-12 standings.

But things were just getting started in South Central.

The fun continued on Friday afternoon for the Bruins, as the No. 3 UCLA men’s tennis team squeaked past No. 2 USC at the Marks Tennis Stadium, 4-3. The Bruins got out to a fast start by winning the doubles point (2-1), but the Trojans battled back in singles to knot the match score at 3-3.

Then, with all attention turned to Court 2, sophomore Marcos Giron won it for UCLA by notching the decisive fourth point. Despite dropping the first set in his singles match, Giron battled back to top Emilio Gomez in a third-set tiebreak. The exhilarating upset improved the Bruins to 10-1 this year, and kept UCLA’s road record at USC unblemished this week.

However, there’s still work to be done for the Bruins to finish out strong, and it all lies on the basketball court.

Both UCLA basketball teams are set to face Southern Cal on Sunday, with the men traveling to the Galen Center and the women hosting the Trojans at Pauley Pavilion. And if Tuesday night’s game is any indication, we can expect another win from the women.

So the pressure falls on the UCLA men to keep perfection in tact, as the Bruins (19-7, 9-4 Pac-12) attempt to even the season-series with USC (12-14, 7-6 Pac-12) at 12:30 PM PST. The Trojans shocked UCLA at Pauley back in January, upsetting the Bruins with a deadly combination of rebounding and rebounding.

For UCLA to continue its rampage and officially destroy Troy, the Bruin ballers will need to rebound, rack up the boards and control the glass. Shooting well and playing defense would certainly help, but this game will really come down to one thing: rebounding. Just to drive it home, UCLA will not win this game if they continue to get beat on the boards. Rebound, rebound, rebound.

If the Bruins heed my unnecessarily redundant warning, the UCLA athletics department will be in for one of its best weeks in recent memory…which subsequently includes an awful week for Southern Cal.