Coach Cori Close received a text from Charisma Osborne on Saturday night: “What do you want me to focus on?”
The freshman guard was asking for advice after No. 10 UCLA women’s basketball (19-2, 8-2 Pac-12) lost to No. 12 Arizona (18-3, 7-3) on Friday by the largest deficit for a Bruin team since Nov. 22, 2018. Osborne and UCLA would have to face another ranked opponent in No. 19 Arizona State (16-6, 6-4) on Sunday.
Osborne had scored the second-most points, 14, for the Bruins in the loss. But Close responded to the text with ways the freshman could do better.
“Just be an aggressive, opportunistic scorer,” Close said. “(Osborne) can shoot the 3, she’s got a nice midrange, she can get to the cup, and I thought she had really been missing some of that aggression.”
In the next game – UCLA’s 70-61 victory over Arizona State – Osborne finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals, scoring 10 of those 15 points in the third quarter alone.
“The (Arizona game) was obviously really tough for us,” Osborne said. “We did not do what we were supposed to do. In the Arizona State game, we really responded with what the coaches told us and we brought a lot of toughness.”
In the first game of the weekend series, the Bruins gave up 92 points while allowing the Wildcats to shoot over 50% from the field – both season-highs for a Bruin opponent. Arizona also shot 29 free throws, the second-most for a UCLA opponent this season.
Just two days later, however, the Bruin defense gave up only 61 points on less than 38% shooting, while holding the Sun Devils to 12 foul shots.
“We had to get humbled by Arizona,” said redshirt senior guard Japreece Dean. “It made us change our mindsets, and we knew that we were at a crossroad with this stretch in the conference and we had to bounce back, and I think we did.”
Dean finished the game against the Wildcats with only two points – tying a season-low – while shooting 0-of-11 from the field. While she is fifth in the conference with 4.9 assists per game, Dean dished out just one assist against Arizona.
Against the Sun Devils, Dean was able to bounce back and put up a team-high 18 points.
“I had to sit back and find more confidence in myself,” Dean said. “Credit to my teammates who help me out by staying confident and knowing that I can do what I do.”
Close said that the loss on Friday was an opportunity for improvement.
“The reality is that we had some chinks in our armor revealed and it forces you to hold the mirror up,” Close said after Friday’s loss. “The question is, will we use this adversity correctly to buy a ticket to a place that we couldn’t go otherwise?”