Women's Basketball Comes Up Short Against No. 3 UConn, 71-61
Newark, N.J. – Despite some late-game heroics from junior guard Charisma Osborne, the UCLA women's basketball team came up just short in its bid to knock off No. 3 UConn at the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newwark, N.J. on Saturday.
The Huskies led 65-51 with 1:20 to play in the game, however the Bruins, powered mostly by the play of Osborne, went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 65-61 with 37 seconds remaining. Osborne nailed two long three-pointers, and added a layup, accounting for eight of the Bruins' 10 points in that stretch. UCLA, however, was forced to foul the rest of the way, with neither team making a field goal in the final 30 seconds, as UConn added six free throws to close out the 71-61 victory.
"It's very disappointing because I think we had plenty of opportunities," said The Michael Price Family UCLA Head Coach Cori Close after the game. "On the other hand we have to say, 'look what we can earn and look what we can grow into.' At this time of year you just have to rise up and get better every time. I will say we got better today. We fought today."
Osborne led all scorers on the day with 26 points. Her seven three-pointers were a career-high. Also scoring in double-figures for the Bruins were IImar'I Thomas and Jaelynn Penn, as each player had 10 points.
It took almost two minutes for the game's first field goal, a corner triple from Osborne put UCLA up 3-1. The score was tied at the first media timeout before the Bruins rattled off a quick 6-0 run to take a 12-6 lead. UConn answered with a triple from Evina Westbrook, but Penn responded with a floater in the paint to make it 14-9. Osborne's third triple of the quarter made it 17-9, but Westbrook and Olivia Nelson-Ododa scored on consecutive possessions to make it a 17-13 advantage for the Bruins after one quarter.
UCLA scored the first five points of the quarter to push the lead to nine, but the Huskies scored a pair of quick baskets to make it a five-point game early in the second quarter. The Bruins surged back, scoring the next three baskets to make it a 28-17 lead and force a timeout from UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma (5:31). The teams exchanged baskets out of the stoppage, UConn closed the half on a quick 7-0 run, securing the Bruins' 30-28 advantage heading into the break.
Osborne and Penn led the Bruins with 12 and 10 points, respectively, after the first two quarters. Westbrook had 11 for UConn, with Caroline Ducharme contributing seven points and a pair of boards. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field in first half and the Bruins did not attempt a single free throw.
The teams exchanged baskets to open the second half before Natalie Chou knocked down a corner triple to make it, 35-30 (8:20). The Huskies then scored four-straight points to cut UCLA's lead to one. Later, Osborne knocked down her fifth three-pointer of the day ahead of a strong bucket inside from Thomas, making it 40-34 at the 6:15 mark in the frame. UConn re-took the lead on a driving layup from Westbrook, followed by a transition bucket from Aaliyah Edwards (3:08). The Huskies poured it on, ultimately putting together a 14-0 run to make it 50-42 with under two minutes to play in the third. The Bruins trailed, 50-44 headed into the fourth.
The Bruins scored the first four points of the fourth to cut the lead to two (7:44), but a subsequent triple from Christyn Williams pushed UConn back ahead, 55-49 (6:16). The Huskies kept it rolling in the fourth, as a three from Ducharme pushed the lead to 13 with under four top play.
Next Matchup: UCLA vs. Texas Southern (Dec. 16)
The Bruins are back home at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom for a matchup against Texas Southern on Dec. 16. The game is slated to tip on Pac-12 Network at 7:00pm PT. It's the first-ever matchup between the programs.