Nirra Fields (21), Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
With the UCLA men making an early exit from March Madness, it has been up to the women of Westwood to bring the winning ways back to Bruin basketball.
Things got going nicely for UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as the 3-seed Bruins cruised past 14-seed Stetson, 66-49, on Saturday. The win launched the Bruins into the Round of 32, where they were paired against 6-seed Oklahoma, a rematch of UCLA’s 86-80 regular season win over the Sooners in November.
And after the first 20 minutes of play from Columbus, Ohio, UCLA has fallen behind OU by five points, 42-37.
Despite 15 attempted three-pointers by Oklahoma, both teams shot 39 percent in the first half, with UCLA going 1-of-6 from deep and 13-of-33 overall. The Sooners ended up with a 15-0f-38 mark, but they played opportunistically and shot 40 percent from behind the arc.
But the good news for the Bruins is that they’re winning almost every other statistical category, holding a 25-18 rebounding advantage, a 9-8 edge in assists.
If UCLA can clean up the turnovers (seven in the first half) and make a higher percentage of the good looks that they’ve had, the Bruins are within striking range and can make a run. It also wouldn’t hurt to stop the ball on defense, forcing the Sooners to create their own shot in the well-defended paint.
The winner of the next 20 minutes will punch a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen, where they will encounter the winner of the Tennessee and Creighton matchup. The 2-seed Volunteers are currently leading the 10-seed Blue Jays by 11, so they look likely to advance. One good half of basketball and the Bruins could be moving on too.