The UCLA women's basketball team bounced back from a ragged first half, broke open a close game midway through the second and gave new Coach Kathy Olivier a victory in her debut Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins beat UC Santa Barbara, 71-54, after surviving long stretches with not only no points but not even good shots.
But UCLA's dry spells--the worst of which was a 5-minute 35-second scoreless stretch in the second half--were nothing compared to Santa Barbara's. The Gauchos went 9:18 in the first half and 4:21 in the second without scoring.
UCLA's 5:35 second-half drought enabled Santa Barbara to score eight unanswered points and take a 45-44 lead before UCLA's Amy Jalewalia scored on a layup with 9:30 left to give the Bruins the lead for good, 46-45.
After that, Olivier's team went on an 18-2 run to take a 64-47 lead with 3:05 to play.
Olivier said she and her players had early-game jitters. She became coach last May after serving seven seasons as an assistant to Billie Moore, who resigned after 16 seasons.
"I was nervous--we all had the jitters," Olivier said, laughing.
"I realized I was jittery when I caught myself talking too much to my assistants."
Santa Barbara shot only 20% and UCLA 30.6% in a 39-turnover first half, with UCLA taking a 31-21 lead at the break. During its 9:18 dry spell in the first half, Santa Barbara went from an 8-4 lead to a 19-8 deficit.
Early in the second half, UCLA All-American Natalie Williams began scoring underneath and Jalewalia scored on drives and breaks.
Williams, the nation's No. 3 rebounder last season as a junior, had a game-high seven rebounds and 21 points. Jalewalia had 16 points. Santa Barbara's Christa Gannon had 14 rebounds and seven points.