The UCLA basketball women’s team has had a lot of success heading into the NCAA Tournament which has been led by the triple threat of Michaela Onyenwere, Kennedy Burke, and Japreece Dean.
The UCLA basketball women’s team is not taking any guff from anyone. They do not care about their opponent’s ranking or record or who their superstar is. They have come to play and those that have underestimated them have paid the price.
This is a very talented team that is coming together at the right time and that is due to their triple threat of Michaela Onyenwere, Kennedy Burke, and Japreece Dean.
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The season did not start off well as It took a few hardships in the non-conference to bring everyone together, but those setbacks have only made this team stronger, especially with these three Bruins leading the way.
It was known that Onyenwere was going to be the Bruins’ biggest weapon going into this season and she has not disappointed. This season she has dominated the frontcourt and has been the Bruins most reliable scorer. Her knowledge, vision, and presence in the paint have given UCLA the boost they need to dominate around the rim.
Onyenwere has averaged an astounding 18.3 points per game. In UCLA’s second to last contest of the regular season, she put up a career-high of 29 points against Utah, and even though it was against a less talented team, Onyenwere did it in such a leisurely manner that she made it look easy. Part of that has to do with her high basketball IQ and aggressiveness, but it also helps that the Bruins have two other scorers to take the load off, especially when it helps to open up the floor.
This is Burke’s fourth season with UCLA, so she has seen them rise, but more importantly, she has risen with them. This year she has emerged as one of the best all-around players on the team. Not only is she a woman without fear as she will drive to the basket with the utmost confidence, but she will also step back and knock down threes. This year, Burke leads the team in field goal percentage (.496) and steals (2.03 per game), making her a threat on both ends of the court.
And then we have the player that is bringing it all together, Dean. She had some big shoes to fill replacing Jordin Canada, but she has separated herself from the conversations comparing her to her predecessor. Dean is not just a facilitator (she is averaging 4.9 assists per game), she is also a scoring machine as she has been reigning terror from beyond the three-point line. She leads the Bruins with the most attempts (142) and the highest percentage (.366) which is extremely difficult to do.
All three have made major improvements in their development this season, which in turn has helped the Bruins to fit into their big girl pants and run with the best in the nation.
Last month, UCLA downed then-#2 Oregon in the regular season and nearly repeated that feat a few weeks ago in an overtime loss in the Pac-12 Tournament. Additionally, UCLA has ascendancy over teams as they are putting away lesser talented foes and fighting until the final buzzer.
That will be important tonight when they face #3 Maryland. UCLA has stepped up during the regular season, but now they have to step up in the tournament. And even though UCLA is a 6-seed, Maryland needs to be aware of what they have done in the last few months and not fixate on their lower ranking.
UCLA is one of the hottest teams in the nation. Onyenwere, Burke and Dean are why. Tonight, the Bruins are going to fight, fight, fight because that is what a disciplined team does. This is what champions do.