That’s why Tara VanDerveer is the best.
The Stanford coach with the most wins in Division I women’s basketball expertly coached No. 1 Stanford to a 61-49 win over No. 10 UCLA on Monday at Pauley Pavilion as the Bruins (5-2, 3-2 Pac-12) dropped to 0-18 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.
UCLA head coach Cori Close called Stanford “one of the best scouting programs in the country,” as the Cardinal (7-0, 4-0) held the Bruins to 27.5% shooting, forcing them to take contested layups and settle for long jump shots. UCLA is 0-2 vs. top-10 teams this year, with the other loss coming at No. 6 Arizona. The Bruins are shooting 33.1% from the field in their losses compared to 43.6% in wins.
“It's always going to be this hard against top-10 teams,” Close said. “That's what's in front of us as a program. … If you want to win top-10 games consistently, you're going to have to lean into the hard [work].”
Despite sputtering on offense Monday, the Bruins challenged Stanford by forcing 16 turnovers, a season high for the Cardinal. A steal by Lauryn Miller turned into a layup for Camryn Brown that pulled the Bruins to within three points with 6:56 to go.
UCLA made just two more shots for the rest of the game and were scoreless for the final 3:03.
“There were some stints in the game where we really did execute the game plan,” said senior Michaela Onyenwere, who led the Bruins with 19 points and seven rebounds. “But we had too many mental lapses and that’s something you can’t have happen against anybody in this conference, especially the No. 1 team in the country.”
UCLA held the Cardinal, the fifth-highest scoring team in the country that had scored 100 points three times this year, to a season-low point total. But the Bruins were also outrebounded 51-37, grabbing just 15 offensive boards off 50 missed shots.
UCLA’s leading scorer, Charisma Osborne, was held to seven points on three-of-19 shooting, including one-of-six shooting from three-point range. UCLA shot 28 three-pointers, making just six. The only Bruin with more than one made three was freshman Emily Bessoir, who tied her career high with 15 points.
Monday was UCLA’s 2020 finale as the Bruins aren’t scheduled to play again until Jan. 1 against Oregon State. Players can’t return home for the holidays due to COVID-19 protocol, but Close is requiring them to take time off this week anyway. No workouts allowed. Take time to decompress after a stressful start to the season. Then with Monday’s loss in mind, they’ll get back to work.
“Really, the onus is how do we learn best from every experience,” Close said. “I do think it bodes well for our future if our players can let this game teach our hearts and teach our minds.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.