“UCLA kicked our butts,” USC head coach Michael Cooper said.
That statement pretty much summed up the game for the Women of Troy (13-10, 7-5) as they lost their fourth consecutive game, 74-56, to the UCLA Bruins (16-7, 9-3) Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.
“We didn’t handle their traps well, we didn’t move the ball, and we didn’t look to attack,” Cooper said.
The Bruins came out aggressive and firing on all cylinders, jumping out to an early 10-point lead.
Meanwhile, the Women of Troy looked confused on offense, committing 14 first-half turnovers.
“I thought we were apprehensive on the offensive side. We dug ourselves in a hole, and it’s always difficult to come out of that, especially with the intenseness of this rivalry,” Cooper said.
Not only did the Women of Troy struggle to find any rhythm on offense, but rebounding the basketball was also a problem as the Bruins grabbed 12 offensive rebounds during the first half.
“Rebounding has been our Achilles’ heel all season long,” Cooper said. “You’re not going to win very many games getting out-rebounded.”
The Bruins stifling defense, coupled with the Women of Troy’s offensive woes, allowed the Bruins to stretch that early 10-point lead to 19 points going into halftime.
To start the second half, the Women of Troy went on a 6-0 run, cutting the deficit to 37-24, but the little hope that was there was quickly gone in a flash as the Bruins reeled off eight consecutive points of their own to push the lead to 21 points.
And from that point on, the Women of Troy couldn’t muster much else.
“I was very pleased with our defensive effort, and each player brought something to the game,” UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell said.
Not only did the Bruins have a solid defensive game, but they also had a balanced offensive attack that saw four players score in double figures.
The Women of Troy were led by junior center Kari LaPlante and sophomore guard Ashley Corral, who both scored 11 points.
One bright spot for the Women of Troy was the play of redshirt junior guard Jacki Gemelos, who scored 11 points off the bench in just her third game back from numerous knee injuries that had plagued her the previous couple of years.
“I’m definitely rusty, and I’m trying to get a feel back for the game and let it come to me,” Gemelos said. “I’m not trying to take over a game or anything, but I’m just trying to play solid and give us the best chance to win.”
The Women of Troy return home to the Galen Center for the next two games, starting Thursday against Washington State and then Saturday against Washington.