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Ain’t no mountain school high enough to keep women’s basketball from perfect record

Redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean’s 13 points in Sunday’s game against Colorado made her one of three players to score in double-digits for No. 8 UCLA women’s basketball. Junior forward Michaela Onyenwere and freshman guard Charisma Osborne round out the trio. (Joy Hong/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Basketball


No. 8 UCLA84
Utah54
No. 8 UCLA65
Colorado62

By Jon Christon

Jan. 13, 2020 12:49 a.m.

The Bruins came away from their first Pac-12 road trip of the season with two victories, but not before some back-and-forth in the scoring column.

No. 8 UCLA women’s basketball (16-0, 5-0 Pac-12) defeated Utah (8-8, 1-4) by a score of 84-54 on Friday and then beat Colorado (13-3, 2-3) by just three points, 65-62, on Sunday. After 16 games without a loss, the Bruins are now the last unbeaten team in the nation.

But despite their record, coach Cori Close said the Bruins are still not playing up to their highest potential.

“They found a way to get the job done, and that’s obviously the goal of every game,” Close said. “I don’t want them to lose their joy in that, but at the same time, our ultimate measuring stick is us playing to our identity and growing every single game – I think (the players) graded themselves as less than our best in that area.”

The Bruins had a nine-point lead coming into the second half against the Utes. But UCLA was held scoreless for the first 5:55 of the half as Utah went on an 11-0 run that gave the Utes a two-point advantage, 36-34.

A layup by junior forward Michaela Onyenwere with 1:32 left in the quarter gave UCLA the lead again, at 43-42, one it would never relinquish.

With that shot, the Bruins went on to outscore the Utes 43-12 – including an 8-0 run to end the third quarter – all while shooting 82.4% from the field. UCLA’s 35 fourth-quarter points are the most it’s scored in a quarter all season.

“Every win is important,” said redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean. “Just gaining confidence and being able to go back home with a win instead of a loss always feels great.”

The late success Friday did not translate into early success Sunday against the Buffaloes, as the Bruins shot just 4-of-19 from the field in the first quarter, leading to a seven-point deficit heading into the second quarter.

After amassing a six-point lead in the first half, UCLA started the second half on a 19-0 run that lasted just over seven minutes. The Bruins forced seven Buffalo turnovers in the span – one more than UCLA had forced all of the first half.

Colorado answered this run with an 11-0 run of its own to end the quarter, cutting the deficit to just 14.

After a 17-to-2 Colorado run in the fourth quarter closed the gap even further, UCLA had the ball, up by two with a minute left. The Bruins were able to run more than 50 seconds off the clock with three offensive rebounds, and the possession was eventually capped with a free throw from Dean, which gave the Bruins the win.

“We’ve been in those situations, those moments,” Dean said. “We just (can’t) get rattled and have to stay the course and believe we’re going to win.”

Onyenwere led the Bruins in scoring and rebounding in both games, with 18 points and nine rebounds against the Utes, and 19 points and eight rebounds against the Buffaloes.

Freshman guard Charisma Osborne added a career-high 17 points and five 3-pointers in the game against Utah, finishing the weekend with 30 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.

“We knew that we wanted to come into the mountain schools and win,” Osborne said. “The third quarter (against Colorado) we just started off well; we were pushing it in transition and my teammates were finding me on the wings when we were pushing.”

UCLA will return to Los Angeles to take on USC at the Galen Center on Friday.

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Jon Christon | Sports editor
Christon is currently the Sports editor and a reporter on the men's basketball and football beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a reporter on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently the Sports editor and a reporter on the men's basketball and football beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a reporter on the women's basketball and softball beats.
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