Women’s basketball shows grit in loss to UCLA

State Hornet Staff

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The Hornets lost 83-92 on Friday night in a competitive back-and-forth with UCLA.

The game marks the third consecutive game the Hornets have faced Pac-12 competition on the road and the season record is at 1-7.

Hornets coach Bunky Harkleroad spoke after the game about what he told his team during tonight’s game.

“Keep the energy as high as you can get it, box out hard and attack the offensive glass,” Harkleroad said. “Our game plan really hasn’t changed. We had opportunities and weren’t able to capitalize on it. When you play Pac-12 teams on the road, you have to value the basketball and you have to make plays. We just need to get over the hump.”

UCLA started off the game on an 8-0 run in the first two minutes. A jumper made by Hornet sophomore forward Gretchen Harrigan set the game at 8-2, UCLA then went on another run of seven straight points to take a 15-2 lead with just over two and a half minutes played.

A three-pointer by Hornet junior point guard Ericka Magaña and a layup by sophomore forward Kyhonta Doughty put the game back within reach at 15-7.

The game went back-and-forth for the remainder of the half. The Hornets went into halftime with momentum on their side after senior point guard Fantasia Hilliard hit a buzzer-beating floater to make the score 48-41 in favor of UCLA.

The second half began with the Hornets scoring the first four points and only trailing by three, 48-45, after layups by Fantasia Hilliard and Adella Randle-El.

“We were trying to get as many shots up in as little amount of time as possible to get them [UCLA] tired,” Randle-El said. “I thought we did that in the second half. That was our thought process, just to get them tired and outrun them and outwork them.”

Though, UCLA countered the Hornets’ aggressive play by pushing the ball up the floor and matching the Hornets’ pace. UCLA made a run to take a 10-point lead, 60-50, with less than 15 minutes in regulation.

At the 14:17 mark of the second half, Gennett swished a corner three as she was being fouled and made the free throw to convert the four-point play. This play gave the Hornets the momentum to make a comeback with the score in favor of UCLA 62-54.

Gennett was far from being done as she hit back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to three points, 67-64, with just over 11 minutes remaining. From that moment on, the two teams traded baskets and the game remained close.

A layup by senior guard Takara Burse at the 2:15 mark put the game within striking distance at 84-80.

UCLA was able to hold onto their lead by hitting eight free throws in the final two minutes of play to put their record at 3-4.

Gennett was the leading scorer for the Hornets as she finished with 20 points in just 24 minutes of play. She spoke after the game and talked about the opportunity of playing UCLA.

“We were excited to play,” Gennett said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I was really excited to be out there. Our main thing that we need to work on is finishing games. We are so close and we just have to give a little bit more.”

Both teams tied in the rebounding category at 46 and the Hornets were able to wrestle away 21 offensive rebounds despite being completely outsized by UCLA’s frontcourt. The Hornets bench was effective, combining for 33 points.

UCLA finished the game with 49 points in the paint compared to the Hornets and their 26 points inside. UCLA’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Kari Korver, did a lot of her work inside the paint and finished the game with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists.

The Hornets wrap up their four-game Pac-12 road trip 2 p.m. Sunday at the University of Southern California.