Jordin Canada named AP honorable mention All-American

UCLA guard Jordin Canada goes to the basket past Boise State forward Shalen Shaw during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. UCLA won 83-56. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Junior guard Jordin Canada earned a second straight AP honorable mention All-American nod this week after she led UCLA to a second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.

The Bruins made back-to-back Sweet 16s for the first time in school history, falling to No. 1 Connecticut this year as Canada set a school record for single-season assists. Her 242 assists this year surpassed Mary Hegarty‘s mark of 240, set in the 1980-81 season.

Canada was also named first-team All-Pac-12 and to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team. She led the Pac-12 in assists with 7.1 per game and steals with 2.5 per game. She led the Bruins in scoring with 17.9 points per game.

UCLA women’s basketball hosts Boise State to open NCAA Tournament

Head Coach Cori Close works with Monique Billings, left, and Ashley Hearn during women’s basketball practice at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA on Monday, November 7, 2016. (Photo by Scott Varley/SCNG, file)

The UCLA women’s basketball team starts its NCAA Tournament run Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, hosting Boise State at 3:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

The fourth-seeded Bruins, with a 27-game home winning streak, are trying to reach their second straight Sweet 16. However, UCLA is staying focused on its first-round task against the No. 13 Broncos.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” Jordin Canada said. “I think that’s what we’re good at is on focusing on one game at a time.”

Canada leads the Bruins with 18 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds, but she is far from the only star for UCLA. Monique Billings is one of the best defensive players in the conference, and averages a double-double (16.8 points and 10.7 rebounds). Kari Korver stretches the floor with her sharp long-range shooting.

It’s great chemistry that allows so many players to flourish for the Bruins while they chase postseason success.

“People aren’t afraid to challenge each other and just really get in each other’s faces about what needs to happen,” Billings said. “If I mess up on defense, if I’m not handling my assignment, Kari is going to come up to me and say, “Mo, get yourself together. This isn’t you.’”

No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 12 Penn play the other first-round game at Pauley Pavilion State at 6 p.m. PT.

Jordin Canada wins Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

Jordin Canada (left) was voted the Pac-12 defensive player of the year by the media. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One day after Pac-12 coaches voted her to a second-straight all-conference defensive team, UCLA junior guard Jordin Canada won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, which was voted on by the media.

Canada leads the Pac-12 in steals with 2.48 per game as UCLA is second in the conference in steals (10.38) and turnover margin (+5.21).

The junior who earned an honorable mention All-American nod last year also leads the conference in assists (6.72) and was voted to the media’s All-Pac-12 first team, along with junior forward Monique Billings.

Both Billings and Canada were voted to the media All-Pac-12 defensive team.

Jordin Canada, Monique Billings voted All-Pac-12

UCLA’s Jordin Canada was named to the All-Pac-12 team for the third straight year. (Photo by Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

Junior guard Jordin Canada and junior forward Monique Billings were voted to the 15-person All-Pac-12 women’s basketball team, the conference announced Tuesday.

Canada earned her second straight nod to the all-conference team after leading the Bruins in scoring with 17.5 points.

Billings had a breakout year, averaging a double-double (17.1 points and 10.8 rebounds). She tied a UCLA single-game record for rebounds against Washington State on Feb. 19 when she pulled down 25 boards in a 67-48 victory.

The duo was also named to to the All-Pac-12 defensive team with Canada becoming a two-time all-defensive player.

Sophomore guard Kennedy Burke was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

The No. 15 Bruins start postseason play Friday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament. With the No. 4 seed, UCLA got a first-round bye and will face the winner of Utah vs. Arizona State at 2 p.m. on Friday (Pac-12 Networks).

UCLA women’s basketball reaches first Sweet 16 since 1999

For the first time since 1999, the UCLA women’s basketball team is heading to the Sweet 16.

The third-seeded Bruins earned themselves a spot on Monday night, holding off a resilient South Florida team for a 72-67 win at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA never trailed, but saw a 16-point lead dwindle to as little as one.

They will take the court again on March 26 against No. 2-seeded Texas.

“This is a huge next step for our program,” said Cori Close, the Bruins’ fifth-year coach.

» Sweet 16 run marks best year of Cori Close’s UCLA tenure

USF senior Courtney Williams, the nation’s 10th-leading scorer, led the game with 29 points — but did so by taking 32 shots. She missed her first eight shots of the night, pestered by defense from UCLA’s Nirra Fields, as well as forward Monique Billings.

Sophomore point guard Jordin Canada kept UCLA ahead late, shaking off a 1-for-11 start to score 17 points in the final quarter. She sank six free throws in the final 25 seconds.

The Bruins are one of four Pac-12 teams to make the Sweet 16, joining Oregon State, Stanford and Washington.

“You really gain credibility when you go do it on the biggest stage, the NCAA Tournament,” Close said. “The Pac-12 has sort of put its money where its mouth is.”