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UCLA women’s basketball sprints to early lead, beats USC again

By in Press Enterprise on February 3, 2018

By Thuc Nhi Nguyen

LOS ANGELES — Jordin Canada left her arm extended for an extra split-second after her 3-pointer snapped through the net with 25 seconds left. She casually turned her head over her left shoulder with a small smirk to put the icing on another rivalry victory.

Canada and fellow senior Monique Billings led No. 9 UCLA to a wire-to-wire 59-46 victory over USC on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion as Canada moved into third place on UCLA’s all-time scoring list with 16 points and Billings added 14 points and 16 rebounds.

The teams held each other to season-lows in scoring in the physical, defensive battle, but the Bruins mustered their third straight win over USC and sixth victory in the past seven meetings.

“Defense and rebounding, thank goodness for that,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said. “We didn’t play very well offensively. I didn’t think we played the kind of style that we needed to play and should play, especially when we got so many stops.”

USC forward Kristen Simon led the Trojans (15-7, 5-6 Pac-12) with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting with 12 rebounds, despite battling what looked like an elbow injury during the physical game and taking a hard fall early in the first quarter.

Although Simon is listed at 6-foot-2, USC head coach Mark Trakh acknowledged the forward is closer to 6-foot, 4 inches shorter than her UCLA counterpart Billings.

“That kid’s got a huge heart,” Trakh said of Simon. “She battles all the time and she’s undersized.”

The Trojans resorted to chucking up contested 3-point attempts against UCLA’s aggressive zone defense, but made only 1 of 14 shots from long distance in the first half and shot 16.7 percent for the game from distance.

UCLA also struggled on offense, shooting just 35.7 percent from the field, but relied on its defensive calling card and outrebounded […]    

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