It was a blowout in every sense of the word.
UCLA women's basketball (5-2) dominated San Jose State (3-6) at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, using a 36-0 run to end the first half and ultimately win 112-33. The Bruins held the Spartans off the board completely through the second quarter and put up their best defensive effort and largest margin of victory in the Cori Close era.
The rebounding battle went UCLA's way 51-18, and they also posted 31 assists compared to San Jose State's three. Points off turnovers, fast break points, second chance points, points in the paint – you name it, the Bruins had the heavy advantage.
The one-sided result was a far cry from the last time UCLA took the court, as they lost two out of three at the Gulf Coast Showcase and fell out of the rankings in the process. Instead of allowing big runs and collapsing late, the Bruins came out and wrestled that shoe onto the other foot.
"We really worked hard this week to hold the mirror up and go 'What got exposed when we were in the tournament in Florida? Where can we give more?'" Close said. "I'm really pleased with how we responded, but we still have a long way's to go."
This wasn't the first time UCLA stomped San Jose State at home, either, since the Bruins won 129-69 the last time the two teams went head to head. Guard Jordin Canada finished that contest with a 26-point triple-double and six players scored in double figures.
It didn't seem like the Bruins would be able to match that 60-point margin of victory early on this time around, as they were caught in foul trouble early and only led 12-10 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
From that point on, however, it was all UCLA and then some.
A 7-0 run by the Bruins gave them some separation before the Spartans hit two free throws, and then they followed that up with a 9-0 run to end the opening quarter up 28-12. The second quarter alone went 27-0 in UCLA's favor, and it didn't hurt that they shot 15-of-17 to end the half compared to San Jose State's 18 consecutive misses over that same stretch.
The Bruins' lead at halftime was 55-12 thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by guard Natalie Chou, and while the defense wasn't technically at that same record-setting level of suffocation in the second half, Chou stayed red hot from long range.
Chou finished with 31 points, and shooting 6-for-9 on 3-pointers. It didn't matter where she was on the court – either corner, straightaway, off the dribble or off a pass – Chou was hitting nearly every shot she got off while also setting up her teammates with 11 assists and leading UCLA with two steals and two blocks.
"My teammates and also my coaches always instill confidence in me," Chou said. "It's just something that's always been consistent, even when I might not be as confident in myself, so just really grateful to have teammates and coaches that always believe in me."
Until she scored eight points in the last 90 seconds, it seemed like forward IImar'I Thomas had done most of her damage in the first half, dropping 16 points before the break. But by hitting the fast break layup to get the Bruins to the century mark, then hitting another four layups in the deepest depths of garbage time, Thomas ended up with a team-best 32 points.
Chou said she told Thomas she was going to be feeding her down low in the final moments regardless of what the score was, and their bench was more than happy to see their teammates both cross 30.
"It was super fun just to celebrate with each other and just really enjoy our time out there," Thomas said. "We're all so happy for each others' success and I think that really showed in we just wanted everybody to get a chance to go crazy, so we really did that."
Guard Jaelynn Penn also scored 12 points in the first quarter alone, finishing the day with 20 to go along with eight rebounds. Guard Charisma Osborne had 13 points before leaving the game with a right injury midway through the third quarter. Osborne returned to the bench in the fourth with an ice pack wrapped around her knee.
That top-scoring quartet combined for 96 points on 70.4% shooting, outscoring the Spartans by 63 all on their own.
The 79-point margin of victory means the Bruins could have stopped scoring at the 7:22 mark of the second quarter and still won the game. The 112 points were their most since the last time they played the Spartans.
UCLA is now 4-0 at home on the season and will return to action Saturday against UConn at 10 a.m. in Newark, New Jersey.
"It was just something that we've been fighting for in practice these last couple of weeks," Chou said. "And we know we need that when we play our next game against UConn."