LAS VEGAS — UCLA coach Cori Chase was worried about the “letdown” game against Kansas State on Saturday.
The No. 5 Bruins were coming off a loss to top-ranked UConn at Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night in an early-season showdown in front of 9,263 fans.
Playing in front of a just a few hundred against unranked, but undefeated Kansas State at the South Point Shootout, the Bruins had some difficulties before finally putting the Wildcats away for a 64-55 win.
“Today was our redemption day,” said UCLA’s Monique Billings, who led the team with 17 points and 12 rebounds. “It felt bad losing, especially on our home floor. We wanted to kick someone else’s butt to get that feeling back.”
The Bruins got a wake-up call Friday.
“Yesterday’s practice told me, we had a little bit of a hangover,” said UCLA coach Cori Close, whose team lost to UConn 78-60. “We were really disappointed, and as a coach, we didn’t really play as well as we wanted. Today, I knew we would be ready to play today, especially against their length and zone.”
Kennedy Burke and Kelli Hayes each added 12 points for the Bruins (4-1). UCLA leading scorer Jordin Canada got into early foul trouble and finished with just six points, five rebounds and five steals.
“I was just trying to be a little aggressive out there,” said Canada, who finished with four fouls and coming in was averaging 16.8 points per game. “I just had to adjust out there. We were out there trying to adjust to their zone.”
After only leading 31-28 early second half, the Bruins outscored the Wildcats the rest of the way in the third quarter, 17-9.
Kayla Goth led Kansas State (4-1) with a season-high 19 points. Goth was 9 of 15 from the field. Kansas State struggled shooting from everywhere, including 19 of 54 (35 percent) from the field.
“We left a lot of chances out there on the floor, free-throw line, layups,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “Some opportunities were not converted. UCLA is very athletic and got a lot of extra chances on the boards. We got Canada and (Lajahna Drummer) into foul trouble. We had our opportunities.”
UCLA, which was 21 of 56 from the field for 38 percent, scored the game’s first eight points and eventually built a 17-10 edge at the end of the first quarter, and a 28-12 lead, its largest of the first half. The Wildcats responded with a 14-3 run to end the half as Goth scored 10 in the session, hitting all five shot attempts. The rest of the Wildcats were 5-of-21 from the field.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins started the third quarter on a 10-2 run while Kansas State started 1 of 11 from the field during that period. UCLA’s lead never got below six points the rest of the game, although the Wildcats cut the lead to 64-54 with 1:15 left.
“I thought we defended well until late in the fourth quarter,” Close said. “I really didn’t like the way we played with our turnovers. In the end, our defensive rebounded carried us and saved the day.”
UCLA: The Bruins bounced back after losing to top-ranked UConn at home on Tuesday in front 9,263, their third largest crowd ever at Pauley Pavilion. No. 2 Texas is also at the Shootout, but the teams agreed not to meet.
KANSAS STATE: This was the third time in their history the Wildcats started 4-0. The last time was in 1979-80. This season, Kansas State had 30 block shots, but only registered one on Friday.
SERIES HISTORY: This was the first meeting between the teams since Dec. 1980. The Bruins have won all four games in the series.
The Bruins play Creighton on Saturday at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout.
Kansas State plays Penn State on Saturday at the Shootout.