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Women’s basketball smokes out Sun Devils in Pac-12 quarterfinal victory

Senior guard Japreece Dean logged 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds in No. 4 seed UCLA women’s basketball’s semifinal win over No. 5 seed Arizona State. The Bruins will face the winner of No. 1 seed Oregon and No. 8 seed Arizona on Saturday night. (Alice Naland/Daily Bruin)

Women’s basketball

No. 5 Arizona State69
No. 4 UCLA73

By Vinny Lavalsiti

March 8, 2019 2:05 pm

This post was updated March 8 at 3:08 p.m.

The Bruins are advancing to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.

No. 4 seed UCLA women’s basketball (20-11, 13-6 Pac-12) defeated No. 5 seed Arizona State (20-10, 10-8) 73-69 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday afternoon.

“Any win in March is a huge deal,” said coach Cori Close. “But to have the toughness to overcome a team you respect as much as I respect Arizona State, … the win means a lot to us.”

With Arizona State trailing the entire contest, guard Robbi Ryan drilled a 3-pointer with one minute left in the fourth quarter to cut the Sun Devils’ once 15-point deficit to just one.

But sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere – who sat out a majority of the final period with four fouls – checked in with 1:40 left in the game and scored her 19th and 20th points of the game to seal the Bruin victory.

“She does what (Onyenwere) does,” Close said. “She’s efficient, she’s selfless, she plays her tail off and we really rely on her for that.”

UCLA was able to work inside on Arizona State in the first quarter, scoring 10 of its first 12 points inside the paint and went a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.

Onyenwere and redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer logged six points apiece in the first quarter, helping the Bruins to an early 22-14 lead.

The Sun Devils went 9-of-11 from the free throw line in the second quarter after failing to draw a single shooting foul in the first.

UCLA held Arizona State to 34.4 percent from the field in the first half and translated seven first-half turnovers into seven points on the other end of the court. The Bruins headed into the break with a 41-31 advantage.

Sixty-three of the 72 combined points scored in the first half were either from inside the paint or at the charity stripe.

Senior guard Japreece Dean logged 12 of her 24 points in the first half and found Onyenwere for three of her five first-half assists to help Onyenwere to a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe for 12 points of her own.

Onyenwere opened the third quarter with the first four points for the Bruins, but the Sun Devils held the Bruins scoreless for four and a half minutes and went on a 13-0 run to trim UCLA’s lead to one point.

“I think the most important thing was that we weren’t really communicating on defense,” said senior guard Kennedy Burke. “That’s why (Arizona State) had those easy layups. They were able to get those 3s off.”

Both All-Pac-12 members Onyenwere and Arizona State forward Kianna Ibis earned trips to the bench at the tail end of the third period after picking up their fourth fouls.

“(Onyenwere’s) got to stay out of foul trouble with us,” Close said. “That last over-the-back (foul) … she’s got to realize, ‘OK, what point of the game is it?’ And she needs to not take that chance because she’s too big of a piece for us offensively.”

The Bruins second-leading scorer Burke stepped in for Onyenwere, sparking a 10-2 run in the opening minutes of the final frame with a putback layup.

Close said she challenged Burke and Dean in timeouts.

“I thought we reestablished in the fourth quarter and I thought (Burke and Dean) were the keys to that,” Close said. “I got right in their close faces in a couple huddles and challenged their response to that.”

Then, Dean challenged Burke.

“(Burke) had missed a layup,” Dean said. “I looked at her and I was like, ‘You going to buck up or what?’… She came out and responded.”

Dean and Burke combined for 12 of UCLA’s 16 points in the fourth quarter.

UCLA will take on the winner of game between No. 1 seed Oregon and No. 8 seed Arizona on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins fell to the Ducks in last year’s semifinal 65-62 in Seattle.


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Vinny Lavalsiti | Alumnus
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
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