Dionne’s Inspired Start Doesn’t Carry to Finish : Women’s basketball: Former Hart guard has hot hand early but Oregon State falls to UCLA.
While a women’s basketball game was being played at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, a point guard from Oregon State was conducting a clinic.
UCLA ultimately prevailed, 84-73, which just slightly dimmed the performance of professor Anjanette Dionne.
Matched against Jamie Oenning, a Bruin freshman making her first start, the 5-foot-8 junior from Hart High began with a rebound and a clearing pass that led to a layup 31 seconds into the game.
She followed with a steal, then another, then a breakaway layup and a jump shot from the perimeter.
With 16 minutes 11 seconds remaining in the half, Dionne drew Oenning into an offensive foul, then made another steal and a layup for a nine-point Oregon State lead.
The assault continued until the Beavers had taken a 27-10 lead 7 1/3 minutes into the game and the dazed Oenning had taken a seat on the bench with a statistical line of no points, four turnovers and two personal fouls.
“When I heard she was starting, I have to tell you I wasn’t unhappy because I felt I could harass her a little bit,” Dionne said of Oenning, who started last season for Irvine Woodbridge’s state championship team.
Then, with the graciousness of a grizzled 20-year-old veteran, she added: “I felt a little sorry for her because I’ve been there before and I know how it is.”
But it seems as though Dionne has always been 20, even at 14 when she was the only freshman on the 1989 Hart team that won a Southern Section championship.
UCLA managed to trim Oregon State’s lead to 44-35 at the half, and caught the Beavers, 46-46, with 15:48 to play. The teams then traded baskets for the next five minutes.
“Every time we went ahead, it seemed A.J. would come up with a big basket or a big play,” said Bruin assistant Pam Walker, Dionne’s coach in that ’89 championship season.
When Kristina Lelas, a 6-4 center, went to the bench with four fouls at 12:40 and her team behind by one, the Beaver baseline game broke down and the Bruins eventually increased their lead to 14 points before winning by 11.
“I don’t know if we thought the game was won early in the first half,” Dionne said. “But I’m sure UCLA didn’t. They’re a well-disciplined team and they deserved to win. They don’t do the kind of things we did in the second half.”
The things Dionne referred to were turnovers and hurried shots as the Bruins rallied and the Beavers buried themselves under an avalanche of bricks.
Their second-half totals were ugly: 12 of 36 from the field, 1 of 7 from beyond the three-point arc. For her part, Dionne finished with a respectable 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and two of three free throws and a game-high five steals.
“I really don’t care that much about the points,” said Dionne the competitor after being apprised of her numbers. “I just want to win.”
In 1991-92, the year before Dionne’s arrival, a woebegone Beaver team went 8-20. Then the A.J. years: 15-12, 17-11, and now, with a starting five of two juniors and three sophomores, a 9-2 start that includes a comeback victory Thursday at USC in which Dionne had two steals for layups in the final three minutes.