Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the UCLA women’s basketball team had stressed the importance of defense.
It backed up that talk on Saturday, stifling Hawaii in a comfortable 66-50 win to advance to the second round of the postseason. The third-seeded Bruins limited the Rainbow Wahine to making a fifth of their attempts from the field, including just two in the final eight minutes.
Senior guard Nirra Fields led UCLA with 16 points and eight rebounds, and dished out four of the team’s 16 assists. She was one of three Bruins to score in double digits, joining Kennedy Burke (15) and Jordin Canada (10).
Megan Huff paced Hawaii with 18 points, accounting for half of that total from the free-throw line.
UCLA will play No. 6 seed South Florida on Monday.
UCLA will lose offensive linemen Fred Ulu-Perry after just one season.
According to both the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Bruin Report Online, Ulu-Perry has been granted a release by the Bruins and is expected to transfer to Hawaii to be closer to home.
The former St. Louis High standout was one of the top centers in the class of 2016, and likely would have pushed for a starting spot as a sophomore. He saw action at offensive guard, defensive tackle, and fullback in his only season at UCLA.
The Bruins are set to lose senior center Jake Brendel, who has started a school-record 51 games in the last four seasons. The team could turn to Scott Quessenberry to fill the void. The sophomore started 19 games in 2013 and 2014, including one appearance at center, before redshirting this season to recover from shoulder surgeries.
Jeremy Castro’s bumpy path toward UCLA is officially over. The former four-star recruit from Murrieta, Calif., has transferred to Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Jim Mora said earlier this week that Castro had not been cleared by UCLA. The Bruins’ head coach added that he was not allowed to divulge any details. The 6-2, 240-pound freshman was part of the 2012 recruiting class, but grayshirted due to academic struggles and enrolled in January.
Practicing with the Bruins this past spring, Castro made very few gains in the depth chart. Led by All-American Anthony Barr, UCLA linebackers form the team’s deepest and arguably most talented unit.
Four years from now, the Rose Bowl will host Hawaii for the first time ever.
The University of Hawaii announced yesterday that it had scheduled a game at UCLA on Sept. 9, 2017. Currently coached by former Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow, the Warriors have only one winning season since June Jones’ 12-1 campaign in 2007.
Hawaii finished 3-9 overall in 2012, and 1-7 in its Mountain West debut.
UCLA has beaten twice the Warriors, first notching a 19-6 win at the L.A. Coliseum in 1935. Hawaii last played the Bruins in 1939, losing 32-7 in the Poi Bowl.
More importantly, the Warriors officially re-adopt their original nickname, the Rainbow Warriors, on July 1. This was their throwback uniform.
Photo by Alejandro de la Cruz, under Creative Commons.