Bruins-Cornhuskers: A Second Round Showdown

Bruins-Cornhuskers: A Second Round Showdown

UCLA women look for breakthrough against top-seeded Nebraska

The second-round NCAA tournament matchup gives the Bruins an opportunity to beat an elite team.

Hannah Foslien / Associated Press (la

Reporting from Minneapolis

The progress shown by the UCLA women’s basketball team is measurable. The Bruins’ 25 victories are their most since 1999 and the fourth-most in school history. Their 15-3 record during the Pacific 10 Conference season equaled UCLA’s best conference mark.

Yet something is missing from UCLA’s dossier — a victory over an elite team. There was a double-digit loss at Tennessee. There were three losses to Stanford, two by more than 20 points. And the Bruins finished the regular season 1-5 against ranked opponents.

On Tuesday night, eighth-seeded UCLA gets another opportunity when it faces top-seeded Nebraska in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The question is whether the Bruins have learned enough in those games to make the next step in their development, upset the 31-1 Cornhuskers and advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1999.

“A win in this game would definitely put us on the map,” UCLA’s Jasmine Dixon (photo left) said. “We have been the underdog, and we continue to be the underdog because we haven’t beaten the high-ranked opponent.”

For that to happen, UCLA has to get off to a better start. In the each of the two lopsided losses to the Cardinal, the Bruins dug double-digit holes in the first half and weren’t able to recover.

Even in Sunday’s first-round victory over ninth-seeded North Carolina State, UCLA found itself down nine points with less than four minutes to play before halftime. The Bruins were able to use their trapping defense to get back in the lead and surge ahead, but that isn’t as easy against good teams.

“The main lesson that I hope they have learned is that you have to bring it for 40 minutes against quality teams who know how to score the basketball and disrupt you defensively,” UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell said.

While Nebraska is ranked fourth nationally, the Huskers don’t have the history and pedigree of the other top seeded teams in this tournament and have never won a second-round game. This Nebraska team is also somewhat vulnerable to pressure, something that concerns Huskers Coach Connie Yori.

“We have identified 13 or 14 defenses that they play, so it will be a challenge, no question, to prepare in such a short period of time,” Yori said.

There is little question that UCLA is going to bring pressure and do everything it can to make the Huskers and star forward Kelsey Griffin uncomfortable.

“We are not satisfied at this point,” Bruins guard Erica Tukiainen said. “We are getting better. [Tuesday] would mean a lot for us. We’re going to try and come out and play hard and have fun.”

And take another step forward in the process.



by Nestor on Mar 23, 2010 5:15 AM PDT in Other Sports

Photos thanks to B D

Photos thanks to B D

Coach Nikki Caldwell’s No. 22 UCLA Bruins (25-8), winners of 11 of the last 12 games, will play top-seeded Nebraska (31-1) tonight at 8:30 p.m. CT/6:30 PT in the second round game. The game is going to be televised on ESPN2/ESPNU. We should have an open thread up at the time to track the action.

Bruins are going to be huge underdogs against a Cornerhusker squad, which didn’t lose a game in the Big-12 conference. They are led by Kelsey Griffin, one of four Naismith Trophy finalists and Coach Coni Yori who was just honored as national coach of the year. Yet the Bruins don’t sound too intimidated considering they have already played powerhouse programs such as Stanford (three times) and Tennessee this season:

Jasmine Dixon photo courtesy of AP Photo/Hannah Foslien

Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.



More in Basketball

WNBA Draft 2020: NY Liberty Select Sabrina Ionescu With First Overall Pick

Denise J. SaulApril 18, 2020

The Washington Mystic Win First WNBA Championship

Denise J. SaulOctober 11, 2019

The ‘Flying Queens’ Inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

WSEN StaffSeptember 5, 2019

WNBA Legend Teresa Weatherspoon Inducted Into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Denise J. SaulSeptember 5, 2019

WNBA Legend Teresa Weatherspoon To Be Inducted Into The Basketball Hall of Fame

Denise J. SaulApril 7, 2019

Rutgers Women’s Basketball Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer Earns 1,000th Career Win

Denise J. SaulNovember 13, 2018