By Meredith Majakey
The BYU women”s basketball team is on the road again, this time to California.
The Cougars will face off against the UCLA Bruins, ranked fourth in the Pac-10 conference, Tuesday, Nov. 27.
The Bruins are sure to be the Cougars” toughest opponent so far in the season.
Center Lisa Hansen said defense will be the key to ensure a win against UCLA.
“We need to work on playing team defense,” Hansen said.
The Bruins” offense will be led by starting guard Michelle Greco, the Pac-10”s leading scorer in 2001, and junior Natalie Nakase.
The matchup will have special meaning for one Cougar in particular – junior guard Melanie Pearson, who transferred from UCLA last season.
Pearson said she is looking forward to playing against her old team and getting a chance to go back to California.
One of Pearson”s friends at UCLA is point guard Natalie Nakase.
“I”ve known her (Nakase) since elementary school. It”ll be like going home for me,” Pearson said.
UCLA”s head coach Kathy Olivier said in a press release that her team knows what it takes to achieve success.
“Intensity and determination will be some of our team strengths this season,” Olivier said. “We are more balanced inside and out, with several players who can be successful at multiple positions.”
The trick for BYU will be to find a way to stop the Bruins” offense.
BYU assistant coach Trent Shippen said the team did a great job defensively against Washington State, except for all the fouls.
The Cougars will have to be on top of their game to effectively stop UCLA”s frontcourt. The Cougars must also keep their post from committing fouls.
However, the Cougars have specific strengths that will come in handy.
The team has a strong outside game, with plenty of depth and height.
BYU shot 68.4 percent from the arc last Saturday, and used substitution as a means to keep the running offense intact.
The team”s depth will also help keep the defense strong by putting fresh legs in the game.
Pearson also said BYU has another great strength – size.
The team”s height advantage should be able to shut down the Bruins” post, and aid in getting offensive and defense boards.
The game will give the Cougars the opportunity to both test their strengths and see their weaknesses.
The game will take place in the Pauley Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. PST.