Washington faces a nationally ranked UCLA team (16-1) on Friday night at 7pm, in a tough road matchup with a possible caveat.
The Bruins could be without their leading scorer junior forward Michaela Onyenwere who has a significant ankle injury that caused her to miss UCLA’s first loss at USC last week.
With Onyenwere, the Bruins are a balanced team that excels offensively and defensively.
If the Bruins are without Onyenwere versus Washington, it will change the whole tenor of the matchup.
UCLA Offense With/Without Onyenwere
With Onyenwere, UCLA excels at postup action as she is one the nation’s top post players, averaging 1.03 points per possession (ppp) on postup plays, which ranks in the 87th percentile nationally.
Without Michaela Onyenwere, however, the Bruins have another effective post player in #33 Lauryn Miller who averages 0.90 ppp in the post, which ranks her in the 70th percentile nationally.
UCLA may less inclined to go inside as much without Onyenwere but do not expect them to abandon the postup game completely.
Either way the Huskies will need strong post defense from UW bigs, Darcy Rees, Quay Miller, and Ali Bamberger.
Michaela Onyenwere is one of the nation’s best offensive rebounders with a knack for scoring on putback attempts. She averages 1.462 points per putback attempt which ranks in the 97th percentile nationally.
Without Onyenwere, UCLA still has Lauryn Miller (1.059 ppp/ 62nd percentile) and #23 Natalie Chou (1.364 ppp / 93rd percentile) to attack the offensive boards.
However, the Huskies are limiting opponents to 10.3 offensive rebounds per game which ranks 4th among PAC-12 teams.*
Therefore, it is unlikely UW would allow UCLA to control the offensive boards without Onyenwere.
UCLA is one of the top transition teams in the nation, averaging 0.99 ppp on transition plays, which ranks in the 83rd percentile.
Onyenwere averages 1.102 ppp per transition attempt (77th percentile).
But the Bruins have four more players that are very effective in fastbreak situations: #20 Charisma Osborne (1.082 ppp / 75th percentile; #4 Lindsey Corsaro (1.091 ppp / 76th percentile); #23 Natalie Chou (1.032 ppp / 70th percentile); and Miller (1.235 ppp / 89th percentile).
Without Onyenwere, the transition offense will be the Bruins strength, so expect them to attack the Huskies with uptempo offense all game.
Washington should be equipped to match the fastbreak offense of UCLA.
UW ranks 43rd in scoring defense, holding opponents to 58.2 points per game.*
The Huskies also rank 19th in the nation with 20.5 forced turnovers, with a turnover rate of 24.1%.*
Likewise, Washington ranks 15th nationally with 11.1 steals per game (11.4), as well as a steal rate of 13.1% e of which ranks 11th in the nation.*
UCLA Defense With/Without Onyenwere
Michaela Onyenwere is a solid defender averaging only 0.629 ppp per defensive play, which ranks in the 79th percentile nationally.
However, Onyenwere is not a game changer defensively as she is, somewhat surprisingly, only an average defender in the post (0.875 ppp / 32nd percentile).
However, UCLA has many excellent defenders, particularly Charisma Osborne (0.573 ppp / 88th percentile), #24 Japreece Dean (0.602 ppp / 84th percentile), and Lindsey Corsaro (0.593 ppp / 86th percentile).
The Huskies have struggled sustaining a potent offensive attack so UCLA presents a formidable defensive opponent, with or without Onyenwere.
On offense, the Huskies continue to have an impressive assisted shot rate, assisting on 64.4% of their made shots.*; and it will take a high level of ball movement for the Huskies to counter UCLA’s tough defenders.
Uptempo is the Way to Go
In conclusion, an uptempo game would put the Huskies on more equal footing with the highly ranked Bruins.
The Huskies face a tough challenge in UCLA’s defense but have their own elite defensive scheme with the ability to create turnovers.
The Huskies have enough to pull off the upset, particularly if Onyenwere is not playing.
*All stats courtesy of HerHoopStats, NCAA, and Synergy. Stats accurate at time of publication.