Well this wasn't the outing the Bruins had in mind.
Coming into tonight's game against Louisiana State, the UCLA women's basketball team had plenty to feel bubbly about: the addition of a veteran presence in the return of Markel Walker; a rendezvous with former Bruin coach Nikki Caldwell and her coaching staff; and ultimately, a chance to build upon its last game, a 41-point victory against Loyola Marymount. But turnovers-galore was the tale of this game, and the Bruins just couldn't find their stride, falling 58-41 to the Tigers at the Pete Maravich Center.
UCLA has gone up against some Paul Bunyans already this season (see: Brittney Griner and the Baylor Bears, San Diego State), and tonight was no different. With a roster wielding eight 6-footers, LSU disrupted a usually-high-octane UCLA offense, denying entry passes into the post and forcing the Bruins into 24 turnovers (the Tigers actually had more miscues with 29 of their own).
"LSU played really high with its size. If you don't get the ball behind their zone, you're struggling with trying to get it through their zone," coach Cori Close said after the game. "We wanted to pull those forwards out high, get into the short corners, and attack from behind the zone defense, but we weren't able to get into that rhythm. Ball movement just didn't happen for us tonight."
LSU's LaSondra Barrett led all players with 18 points for the game. The Bruins had just one player scoring in double figures, and it was none other than Walker, who made her season debut after undergoing thumb surgery in the offseason. She may have started off slow, but Walker showed some signs of promise, scoring most of her 11 points on jumpers and grabbing six rebounds. And it's a point to be noted; if the junior forward can emerge as a third scoring threat besides Atonye Nyingifa and Rebekah Gardner, it figures to spread the floor and open up the Bruins' three-point game.
"A lot of teams know that I can drive to the basket and that I like to pass the ball, so I've been working on my jump shot and just gaining more confidence," Walker said.
Up next for the Bruins? Certainly some rigorous practice and film sessions, as No. 6 Tennessee rolls into Collins Court on Saturday.