MORAGA, Calif. -- It's one thing to know that No. 10 UCLA will press. It's another thing to break it.
The Bruins forced a season-high 33 turnovers with a variety of full-court presses Sunday, and finally pulled away for a 75-59 victory over Saint Mary's.
"We're beginning to establish our identity," said third-year coach Nikki Caldwell, who has revitalized a long-dormant UCLA program. "We are a team that must bring pressure."
Rebekah Gardner had 16 points for the Bruins (8-0), and Doreena Campbell added 14 -- both season-highs -- but the key to the game was the turnovers that UCLA turned into 40 points.
Freshman Danielle Mauldin had a double-double for Saint Mary's (5-5) with 12 points and 14 rebounds and Louella Tomlinson added to her NCAA record with eight blocked shots. She has 52 this season and 564 for her career. Suzie Davis added 10 points for the Gaels but Jasmine Smith, the Gaels' leading scorer with an 18.8 average, was held to eight.
Jasmine Dixon, UCLA's top scorer, returned after missing two straight games with concussion-like symptoms but did not start and had seven points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
"It's definitely good to have that inside presence," Campbell said.
Caldwell was equally pleased. "She came out and gave us some great minutes," she said.
The eighth straight win is the best start for the Bruins since 1980-81 and this is their first top 10 ranking since January 2000, but the victory didn't come easily.
"This team has to understand what position we're in," Caldwell said. "No one is going to just roll over and let us execute."
Saint Mary's had trouble with UCLA's quickness from the beginning, turning the ball over on five of its first seven possessions. The Bruins used a 1-2-2 zone press as well as a full-court man-to-man press, and trapped out of both. The Gaels did manage to hang with the much quicker Bruins for the first seven minutes, trailing 12-10 with 12:51 remaining but seven turnovers in the next four minutes resulted in 10 straight UCLA points.
The lead eventually expanded to 31-18, but Saint Mary's came back late in the first half, exploiting holes in the Bruins' interior defense, to cut the margin to 31-24 with 1:27 remaining.
The teams then traded runs: UCLA put up 16 points in 3:41 to two for Saint Mary's, but the Gaels responded with a 21-5 burst to make it 52-47 with 11:17 left in the game. In the end, though, the Bruins just had too much quickness and size for Saint Mary's, and pulled away down the stretch.
Saint Mary's has played an ambitious schedule with UCLA is its third Pac-10 opponent. The Gaels have also played two teams from the Big 10 and one from the Big 12. They are 2-4 against those BCS schools, with one more to go: Oregon on Dec. 19.