No. 1 Stanford finishes 2020 with 61-49 road win at No. 10 UCLA and Belibi notches her second dunk

Belibi dunks again

With another dunk from sophomore forward Fran Belibi in the mix, No. 1 Stanford (7-0, 4-0) earned a 61-49 win over No. 10 UCLA (5-2, 3-2) Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. In the last game of their six-game, month-long road trip, the Cardinal overcame a tenacious effort by the Bruins to remain undefeated at the close of the year.

Stanford’s transition offense helped the Cardinal run out to an early lead. While UCLA managed to get some good looks, they were unlucky when it came to the ball actually going through the basket. In the first quarter, the Bruins shot a paltry 24% (4-17) from the field compared to 44% (8-18) by Stanford. Only three players from UCLA made shots in the first ten minutes, while the Cardinal had contributions from six players.

The second quarter began as a more competitive contest. With a better offensive performance coupled with defense that stymied their opponent, the Bruins outscored Stanford 14-4 in a seven-minute stretch. A three-point jumper from freshman forward Emily Bessoir gave UCLA a 26-25 lead. However, the Cardinal finished out the quarter on a 6-0 run to enter the break with a 31-26 advantage.

Both teams had a sluggish offensive outing in the third quarter, with Stanford scoring 12 to UCLA’s 11 points. Belibi fired up her team early in the fourth quarter with a fastbreak dunk at 8:56, giving her team a 47-40 lead. She finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, an improvement over her last outing, a game against USC on Saturday in which she scored just five points and only grabbed two rebounds.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer challenged Belibi and several other players she felt underperformed against USC to step up for the UCLA matchup. And they did. In addition to Belibi’s improvement, sophomore guard Haley Jones had eight points and an impressive 15 rebounds against UCLA. Freshman forward Cameron Brink, who fouled out at USC, only committed two fouls against UCLA and added 10 points plus nine rebounds.

Senior guard Kiana Williams was also in double figures with 10 points plus four assists. However, she left the game late in the fourth quarter after a collision with UCLA sophomore guard Charisma Osborne. Williams, who was assessed with a foul, was on the floor in pain for a few minutes before being helped off the court.

According to VanDerveer, Williams is fine; she “just got run into unexpectedly.”

Overall, the Stanford coach liked her team’s defense and emphasized fifth-year guard Anna Wilson’s efforts.

“I thought Anna Wilson really, really worked hard defensively,” she said. The Cardinal held the Bruins well under their scoring average of 78.7 points per game. In the same vein, the Bruins’ defense was also instrumental in keeping the Cardinal below their average of notching 93.2 points per contest.

Senior guard Michaela Onyenwere led UCLA with 19 points and seven rebounds. Bessoir finished with 15 points and five rebounds.

Next up for UCLA is a New Year’s Day game at Oregon, followed by a contest at Oregon State.

Stanford goes back to Northern California but will stop short of entering Santa Clara County due to a local health mandate requiring anyone entering the county to quarantine for 10 days and a temporary ban on contact sports. The team will stay in a hotel over the holidays before heading to Arizona on Dec. 27 to prepare for games at Arizona and Arizona State.

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