Redshirt junior Jayla Ruffus-Milner attacks the basket during the game against CSU Los Angeles on Nov. 5. Ruffus-Milner finished the game with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Photos by Brandon Rubsamen
After a disappointing 2020-2021 season that saw many players fall to injuries, the squad received some much-needed reinforcements with the return of 11 players.
“It’s nice to have a lot of returners for this season because we already have a built-in chemistry from the previous years,” redshirt junior guard Jayla Ruffus-Milner said. “I think having people who are vets, we can help the newcomers, we can help build new chemistry because we’re developing a new culture this year.”
“I think the three freshmen are going to bring lots of energy and help us in just any way possible,” senior guard and Graphic staff writer Malia Bambrick said. “Both Ally and Mea have helped tremendously just by stepping in and kind of blending well with what we’re already building off of, and they bought in from the day they got here.”
The game took a while to get going, as both teams struggled to find their rhythm offensively. The Eagles set the tone defensively by implementing a full court press.
The Waves adjusted to the defensive aggressiveness from the Eagles and countered with their own offense. Ruffus-Milner scored on a layup and Bambrick nailed a jump shot in transition with the score at 6-4 with 7:13 on the clock.
The Waves responded with their own defensive game plan and executed a 2-2-1 full court press to respond to the Eagles defensive pressure.
“We just like pressing,” Head Coach Kristen Dowling said. “The other team pulled it off because they were getting some open threes and we didn’t want them to get hot.”
“Part of pressing for us is that we’re trying to instill a very defensive, active [and] aggressive mentality,” Ruffus-Milner said. “And with the press it just encourages us to be very active and to be looking around. Searching for traps, slowing down the offense. I think we need to rep that in even more.”
The second quarter saw a change in the Waves offense, as they found success in the post and started to feed the ball to redshirt junior forward Becky Obinma.
Obinma scored five of her total 17 points in the second quarter. Dowling said this would be a main focal point of the offense moving forward.
“That’s something we’re trying to take advantage of,” Dowling said. “It’s hard to stop our post. We feel like [with] not just Becky but Mea we feel like we have very strong post, and we’re hard to stop.”
Obinma sat out last season due to transfer rules and Amosa was still in high school at Mater Dei so the Waves were very limited on offense. Instead, the Waves ran a lot of their offense on the perimeter through guards like Bambrick and Carson.
“Becky is a baller,” Ruffus-Milner said. “This game allowed us to instill the confidence in her to show her like ‘Yo, you have that! Put that in, it’s there.'”
Ruffus-Milner also got going in the second quarter, contributing with 6 of her 10 points on a variety of layups. The Waves took a comfortable 33-25 lead at half.
The Waves turned up their defensive intensity in the third quarter and limited the Eagles to seven points.
The defensive effort translated into offensive success, with the Waves finding their rhythm through a 10-0 run. The Waves forced a total of five turnovers and never allowed the Eagles to find their footing.
“The better your defense, the better your offense,” Dowling said. “One of the things I’m proud of [is that] we kept them to seven points in the third and nine points in the fourth and nine in the second too.”
The Waves dominated the paint, outscoring the Eagles 46-12 and getting easy layups while making an effort to look for Obinma and Amosa. The Waves got major contribution from their bench as well, winning that category 21-6 as everyone contributed to the win.
Obinma led the Waves with 17 points. Ruffus-Milner contributed with 10 points and redshirt junior forward Eve Braslis led the bench scoring with seven points.
“Honestly, we have a lot more weapons. Just taking advantage of them, pounding the ball inside and defensively locking down,” Dowling said. “I think we had some weapons that we didn’t have in the past. We have a great post player in Becky, and I think we got some stud freshmen.”
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Contact Jerry Jiang via Twitter (@j_jiang30) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org