For only the second time in the last 20 seasons, the Bruins have started 7-0.
No. 11 UCLA women’s basketball (7-0) defeated UCF (4-4) by a score of 61-56 on Saturday and then took down Virginia (4-4) 73-62 on Sunday in the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I really don’t care too much (that) we’re 7-0,” said coach Cori Close. “I care a lot whether we grow with every experience – that our trajectory is using every day to move us forward.”
In both games, the Bruins were led in scoring and rebounding by junior forward Michaela Onyenwere, who posted back-to-back double-doubles. She scored 22 points with 13 rebounds Saturday and added on 27 points and 11 rebounds Sunday.
Onyenwere had previously averaged just 16.4 points in UCLA’s first five games – down from her 18.3 average last year.
The junior said that, despite the lower scoring average, she has grown beyond the stat sheet.
“It’s different from my first two years – freshman year I was following other people, and then sophomore year I wasn’t very vocal either,” Onyenwere said. “This year, I’ve been placed in the position where I’ve been forced to be a leader, and I think that has helped me grow on and off the court.”
Against UCF, freshman guard Charisma Osborne hadn’t made a field goal all game when she scored the game-winner. With 53 seconds left in the game and the score locked at 56-56, she sunk a 3-pointer to break the tie.
“My coaches and my teammates are always just encouraging me to be ready even if I’m not making my shots,” Osborne said. “I just stayed confident and knew that I would make one.”
Saturday’s matchup was UCLA’s closest of the season, as the Bruins had won their first five games by an average of about 33 points.
UCLA also trailed Saturday for the first time this season, finding itself behind 53-46 with 9:38 left in the fourth quarter. The Bruins then went on a 9-0 run to take a two-point lead before holding the Knights scoreless in the final four minutes of the contest.
Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean – who posted her first career triple-double Tuesday against Yale – scored 19 points on 7-of-12 from the field after recording 11 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers.
Against Virginia on Sunday, UCLA was held scoreless for the opening two minutes before Onyenwere made a layup to tie the game at two apiece. In a team-high 37 minutes, Onyenwere finished the game with three assists, four steals and four blocks.
Onyenwere did this despite not being at 100%, according to Close.
“I didn’t know if (Onyenwere) was even going to play (Sunday) – she got beat up yesterday in the game (against UCF),” Close said. “She was an absolute warrior. For her to be that productive, and be hurting that much, is remarkable to say the least.”
After trailing 17-13 at the end of the first quarter, the Bruins opened the second quarter by outscoring the Cavaliers 22-6.
Osborne scored five points during UCLA’s second-quarter run, including a 3-pointer 42 seconds into the quarter. Osborne finished the game with 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
Junior forward Lauryn Miller posted 14 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.
UCLA will return to California to take on Cal State Northridge on Saturday at The Matadome.