Los Angeles Times
It’s an old West showdown
Jaquez, Bruins focused on region’s No. 1 seed as No. 8 Arizona looms
For the briefest of moments as he dribbled on the wing, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. saw an opening. A screen by teammate David Singleton had cleared a tempting path to the basket.
Accelerating with a quick burst, Jaquez commenced liftoff.
Three Arizona State defenders converged on the airborne intruder, Desmond Cambridge Jr. daring to challenge Jaquez at the rim.
Bad decision. There was no stopping Jaquez on Thursday night.
Soaring with the ball in his right hand, Jaquez threw down a vicious dunk over the helpless defender.
As the crowd’s roar inside Pauley Pavilion washed over him, Jaquez paused for a moment after he landed to savor one of his final highlights on his home court.
It was Jaquez’s third ferocious dunk of the game and another sign that the Bruins were not going to suffer the letdown their coach had feared with the Pac-12 Conference’s regular-season championship already theirs.
Fourth-ranked UCLA showed plenty of passion on the way to a 79-61 victory over the Sun Devils that solidified Jaquez’s candidacy for the conference’s most valuable player award in his last college season.
“I know he’s not gonna say it, but he deserves the damn award, if you get what I mean,” UCLA
ACLs in back-to-back seasons in high school. A twotime league defensive player of the year at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Texas, Brown was stuck on the sideline during her junior and senior years.
But the injuries turned into a “blessing,” Brown said earlier this season. She used her view from the bench to develop her basketball knowledge and work selflessly to help her teammates by drawing up plays to get them open baskets. She brought the same influence to Westwood.
“She’s a glue player,” coach Cori Close said after UCLA’s win against Arizona
State in the first round in which Brown was plus-14 on the court despite scoring only four points. “She’s what makes you go from having talented individuals to a cohesive team that does something bigger together than they could do on their own.”
Close called the 5-foot-11 small forward her team’s quarterback for the way she helps set up the offense and direct the defense.
Brown’s energy results in extra possessions, even if she doesn’t officially get credit for a steal or rebound after tipping the ball to one of her teammates.
Never one to give up on a play, Brown dished an assist to Londynn Jones while falling to the ground in the third quarter and scrambled to her feet in time to celebrate the freshman’s three-pointer that put the Bruins up by 12 points.
Jones delivered the big play after an earlier pep talk from Brown, who was caught on TV cupping Jones’ face and encouraging her after the freshman turned the ball over a third time in the first half.
“I love putting my teammates in the best positions for them to succeed and for them to have success,” Brown said. “I think that’s where I thrive the most, being able to put some puzzle pieces together and solve problems. But my teammates really just help me shine; when they do good, I look good, apparently.”
Brown didn’t have to just settle for an understated role in the offense Thursday as she scored six of UCLA’s first eight points by cutting to the basket aggressively for easy layups.
The highlight came in the third quarter when the senior, averaging just 2.9 points, slipped behind the Arizona defense during a press break and drew a foul on a made layup after a long pass from Rice.
Bessoir, who was on the bench, said she almost became light-headed from celebrating when Brown completed the three-point play.