UCLA women’s basketball routs Boise State in first round

UCLA forward Monique Billings, left, and coach Cori Close, right, smile after UCLA defeated Boise State in a first-round game of the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. Danny Moloshok AP Photo

The UCLA women’s basketball team dominated Boise State 83-56 in its NCAA Tournament first-round matchup on Friday at Pauley Pavilion.

The fourth-seeded Bruins host No. 5 Texas A&M in the second round on Monday at 7 p.m. PT for a chance to go to the Sweet 16.

Monique Billings led UCLA’s team effort with 19 points and seven rebounds. Jordin Canada tied the school record for assists in a game with 16 and had 15 points. Kennedy Burke had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

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UCLA’s second-round opponent Texas A&M pulled off the biggest in NCAA Tournament history, coming back from 21 points to beat No. 12 Penn 63-61 in the first round. The Aggies trailed 58-37 with 8:57 to go then opened up a 25-1 run to take the lead with 19.1 seconds left.

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.

UCLA women’s basketball earns No. 4 seed, hosts first two rounds of NCAA Tournament

UCLA’s Jordin Canada will lead the Bruins into the NCAA Tournament as they host the first two rounds at Pauley Pavilion. (Photo by Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

With a 27-game home winning streak, the UCLA women’s basketball team seems to have a favorable road to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. But if the Bruins get there, they’ll face the biggest road block in the bracket.

By earning the No. 4 seed in the Bridgeport Region in the NCAA Tournament, the Bruins (23-8) have the right to host the first and second rounds, which start Saturday. With two wins, they’ll also have a date with undefeated powerhouse UConn, which owns the No. 1 overall seed in the bracket, announced Monday.

UCLA hosts 13th-seeded Boise State on Saturday in the first round at 3:30 p.m. PT. If they advance, they’ll face the winner between No. 5 seed Texas A&M and No. 12 seed Pennsylvania in the second round on Monday.

The Bruins own the nation’s second-longest home winning streak. The only team ahead of them is UConn, which has a 107-game overall winning streak.

Boise State (25-7) punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Mountain West Conference tournament, bringing a 10-game winning streak into Westwood.

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).

Women’s basketball snaps 16-game road losing streak to Stanford

Jordin Canada and Monique Billings led No. 13 UCLA to its first road win over Stanford since 1999 as the Bruins knocked off No. 8 Stanford 85-76 on Monday in Maples Pavilion.

Canada scored 25 points with five assists and three steals. Billings had her 13th double-double of the season with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Kari Korver added 17 points, sinking 5 of 7 3-point shots.

The Bruins (18-5, 9-3 Pac-12) ended a 16-game road losing streak against Stanford and a 15-game road losing streak to ranked opponents. After a 21-game losing streak to Stanford, UCLA now has back-to-back victories over the Cardinal, including a 56-35 win at Pauley Pavilion last season.