LOS ANGELES — When things got tight down the stretch, UCLA went to its experienced clutch guard Jordin Canada and the senior came though brilliantly.
Canada scored 16 points and Lajahna Drummer added 15 points to lead the No. 8 Bruins to a 71-63 victory over No. 25 Arizona State on Sunday for their 10th consecutive win.
Canada also had 10 assists and scored nine of her points in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Bruins (21-4, 12-2 Pac-12). Her hustle forced several turnovers and gave the team second scoring opportunities that they converted. Monique Billings had 14 points and Michaela Onyenwere added 12.
“I was on the bench most of the first half with two fouls,” Canada said. “But in the second half, I let the game come to me. I made better decisions when to pass and when to shoot and when to be more aggressive. I tried not to over think everything”.
UCLA coach Cori Close said ASU gave the Bruins all they could handle.
“ASU competed so hard and I was impressed with their composure, especially in second half,” Close added. “They gave us all we could handle. We pride ourselves on our defense and we had a hard time marching up with them.
“We knew they would come out aggressive after losing Friday night, but we settled in and regrouped after a slow start. We made a commitment to play defense”.
Robbi Ryan led the Sun Devils (17-9, 8-6) with 14 points and Kianna Ibis and Courtney Ekmark added 13 points apiece. Ibis pulled down 11 rebounds and Reili Richardson had 8 assists.
Both teams shot well as UCLA was 50 percent from the field and the Sun Devils shot 46.8 percent but the Bruins only turned the ball over only eight times, compared to ASU’s 13 miscues. The Sun Devils also missed seven free throws.
UCLA has won 12 of 13 and improved 11-2 at home this season. The Bruins have defeated the Sun Devils five consecutive times and have won 13 of their last 16 against ASU.
After trailing early, UCLA battled back and took a 19-18 at the end of the first quarter following a basket by Billings.
Kelli Hayes drilled back-to-back baskets to lead the Bruins on an 8-0 run to open the second quarter. UCLA upped its advantage to 35-25 following two free throws by Onyenwere at the 2:16 mark of the quarter and extended its lead to 41-29 at the break following a Billings’ layup in the final seconds of the half.
The Sun Devils held UCLA to one basket over the final 4:13 of the third quarter and trimmed the lead to 54-49 following a free throw by Ryan with 1:13 left in the quarter.
“I looked at Jordin and at the beginning of the fourth quarter and said they aren’t coming into our house and winning,” said Billings, who also had 7 rebounds. “That was my mindset”.
Arizona State got within 56-54 after a basket by Sophia Elenga with 8:21 to play, but the Sun Devils couldn’t draw any closer the rest of the way as Canada took over in the final quarter.
“Credit UCLA,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne. “Jordin (Canada) is tremendous and she plays her butt off every possession. “We were right there but in the fourth quarter but when they missed shots, they got rebounds and that was the difference. We had too many miscommunication breakdowns among our shooters”.
ASU: It was a lost weekend for the Sun Devils in Los Angeles. After winning three straight before coming to California, ASU lost to USC on Friday night and fell to UCLA on Sunday (20-4, 11-2 update).
UCLA: The Bruins and Oregon have four regular season games remaining, two at home and two on the road; Stanford has three road games and one home game remaining.
Sunday’s game was designated a “Pink Game” in the awareness of fighting cancer. Both teams were introduced prior to the game and conducted an “honor walk” in tribute to a loved one that is battling cancer or a loved one who has passed away from the disease. ASU donned pink jersey’s for the game and the Bruins starting lineup was introduced along with a cancer survivor.
ASU: The Sun Devils return home and will host Arizona on Friday.
UCLA: The Bruins travel to Oregon State to take on the Beavers on Friday.