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UCLA women’s basketball team gets comfortable ahead of second-round NCAA Tournament game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  On Friday morning before UCLA’s first practice in College Park, UCLA coach Cori Close took to Twitter.
“Ok, we are finally ready for the tournament. Nails are done. Phew… I was worried…,” the tweet said.
Joining the tweet was a picture of four right hands with nails painted Bruin Gold, as various coaches and players enjoyed a moment together before the thick of tournament play began.
While this ritual appears insignificant, the adventure of finding a nail salon in an unfamiliar place is a list of many things that have allowed UCLA women’s basketball to build camaraderie on the road this season. The team’s record away from home is 8-3, and three of those wins came against NCAA Tournament teams.
That record will be put to the test as the sixth-seeded Bruins will hope those decorated nails help carry them to victory against third-seeded Maryland at the XFINITY Center in College Park Monday at 4 p.m., in a rematch of the 1978 AIAW final where UCLA captured its first and only national title at Pauley Pavillion.
Junior point guard Japreece Dean, who chose not to paint her nails, said that the team is “more accountable on the road” than at home. Close agreed with Dean, noting that the Bruins’ results away from home speak for themselves.
“Well it’s hard to argue when you look at how our year has gone,” Close said. “I think there has been sort of this sense of focus that there’s no external distractions. I mean at Arizona State we get that huge win; they were ranked 16th in the country and then we go and get triple overtime win at Arizona two days later and then it just starts with just building.”
While UCLA has certainly shined on the road, Maryland has thrived in its own building, losing just once this season. In their history at the XFINITY Center, the Terrapins are 17-3 in NCAA Tournament play. The Terps could also be aided by what could be a raucous crowd filled with students that returned from Spring Break this week.
“That’s what you play all season long for is to be able to have that home court advantage where you can feel the energy in the building,” Maryland head coach Brenda Freese said. “When the game gets tough to be able to have that additional boost from your fans is huge.”

Ok, we are finally ready for the tournament. Nails are done. Phew…I was worried. 
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