Fresh off their first signature road win of the Coach Langley era (at Oregon State), the Washington Huskies (10-6 overall; 2-4 PAC) host the #9 ranked UCLA Bruins (15-3 overall; 4-2 PAC) — 7pm at Hec Ed on Friday, January 20th.
UCLA Player Preview
UCLA is a young team on a roll and seemingly getting better by the game.
Rice shoots 52.0% from two-point range and a subpar 21.2% from three-point range.
UCLA’s fifth most frequent scoring combination is Charisma Osborne (assister) to Kiki Rice (scorer).
A UCLA player that may be easy to overlook, but deadly to do so, is 5’11 grad transfer point guard Gina Conti.
UCLA’s second, third and fourth most frequent scoring combinations all involve Conti as the assister: #1 Gina Conti (Assister) to Charisma Osborne (Scorer); #2 Gina Conti (Assister) to Emily Bessoir (Scorer); and #3 Gina Conti (Assister) to Londynn Jones (Scorer).
However, Gina Conti can also hit the open three-pointer.
Londynn Jones is a 5’4″ freshman guard that is averaging 7.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 18.8 minutes.
Jones is a scorer — shooting 45.5% from two-point range and 35.8% from three-point range.
Surging Huskies Offense?
Because it is still early in the season, it remains an open question if the rejuvenation of the Washington women’s basketball program really reached a new high based solely upon UW’s upset of Oregon State and their ultra-competitive loss to #21 Oregon.
On Washington’s Oregon/Oregon State roadtrip, the Huskies offense clicked in a big way, UW averaged:
1) 79 points per game; 2) 53.8% shooting from three-point range (ranking Top 1% nationwide); 3) 56.1% shooting from two-point range (Top 2% nationally); 4) 63% shooting in-the-paint (Top 1% nationally); 5) 31 bench points per game (Top 2% in the nation); and 6) 16 assists per game (Top 14% nationally)
with an overall offensive rating of 118.9 which ranks in the Top 1% nationwide.
It is unusual for a team to dramatically improve its three-point shooting during the season — prior to the roadtrip, UW was shooting only 22.6% from three overall (27.4% in PAC-12 play, worst in conference).
However, maybe some of the improved shooting can be attributed to an improved passing game, i.e., quicker and smarter ball movement leading to more open looks — such an improvement could be sustainable the rest of the season.
(Unfortunately, Washington’s defensive performance did not improve on the Oregon road trip — UW’s defensive rating was 100.8, which ranked in the Bottom 8% of Division One teamsnationwide.)
Hosting #9 UCLA is the next big test and an upset victory (or even a competitive contest) would serve notice that the Huskies program has already improved in Head Coach Tina Langley’s second season.
To secure the victory over UCLA, the Huskies will need to:
(1) limit Charisma Osborne to an average offensive output, she is a seasoned veteran that can explode and take over a game if the Huskies defense does not guard her tough;
(2) control super frosh Kiki Rice to limit either her scoring or her facilitating her UCLA teammates’ scoring;
(3) neutralize UCLA’s 6’4″ big Emily Bessoir enough to prevent her from posting a dominant double-double (points/rebounds) performance;
(4) dominate the Bruins with inside-the-paint scoring by the Huskies, with a target of 30 or more points-in-the-paint total (at least 10 of those points by Dalayah Daniels); and
(5) defend the three-point line to hold UCLA’s three-point best shooters below their shooting averages, i.e., Emily Bessoir (35.8%), Gina Conti (32.3%), Londynn Jones (30.9%), and Charisma Osborne (30.3%).
A home victory over UCLA by the Washington Huskies would be an upset that would send shockwaves through the PAC-12, as well as nationally.