In 1st Washington game, Charisma Osborne propels women’s basketball to victory
Freshman guard Charisma Osborne scored a career-high 32 points on a team-high 21 attempts from the field Friday night against Washington State. Osborne is averaging 14.6 points per game in Pac-12 play. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin senior staff)
|No. 8 UCLA||70|
Feb. 22, 2020 1:35 p.m.
The Bruins started their Evergreen State two-step in victorious fashion behind another career game from their starting freshman guard.
No. 8 UCLA women’s basketball (23-3, 12-3 Pac-12) defeated Washington State (11-16, 4-11) 70-62 on Friday night in Pullman. The Cougars led by a single point heading into the fourth quarter, and the game was knotted at 62 with 2:17 remaining, but four points by freshman guard Charisma Osborne contributed to an 8-0 closing run for the Bruins.
Osborne led the Bruins with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, good for the largest offensive output by a UCLA player in a game this season.
For the second consecutive game, Osborne set a career high in points, and the freshman guard said her recent performance can be partly attributed to her teammates and coaching staff.
“My coaches and my teammates are constantly reminding me to be aggressive,” Osborne said. “I still have my ‘freshman moments,’… but I really try to use the experience that I’ve had these past Pac-12 games to fuel myself to be aggressive.”
Washington State jumped out to a 13-3 lead, and through the first 8:44 of the first quarter, forward Borislava Hristova’s 11 points were outscoring the entire Bruin roster. The Cougars shot 50% from the field in the first half, and Hristova – their leading scorer – finished the contest with 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting in her 13th game of at least 20 points of the season.
UCLA fell behind by as many as 11 points early in the contest, just four days after digging itself out of a 14-point hole to defeat No. 15 Oregon State.
Coach Cori Close said she is trying a positive approach to address her team’s pattern of falling behind.
“We’re all feeling like, ‘How do we solve (these deficits)?’” Close said. “It’s frustrating. Earlier in the year, we were having all these third quarters that we’re having a hard time with. Now it’s the first quarter. Honestly, I just try to bring the joy.”
After Washington State led 19-11 at the end of the first period, Osborne scored 12 points in the second frame and finished the first half with 15 points to cut the Cougars’ lead to 34-31 at the break. No other Bruin contributed more than three points during the first two quarters, and Osborne finished the game as the only UCLA player to score in double figures.
The Bruins had converted 33.3% of their shots at the half, and finished the game with 17 turnovers – their second most in a game this season.
“We turned it over six times in the first four minutes. … We just had to take a deep breath and regroup,” Close said. “It was really uncharacteristic, and it fueled how they got into easy baskets in one-on-one situations.”
Despite junior forward Michaela Onyenwere matching her lowest point total of the season with 8 points, UCLA was able to outscore Washington State 14-0 on second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds.
Onyenwere – the Pac-12’s second-leading scorer – started the game 0-of-8 from the field and did not convert a field goal until the 6:49 mark in the third quarter, when her and-1 gave the Bruins a 40-38 lead.
With both redshirt junior guard Natalie Chou and junior guard Chantel Horvat dealing with minor injuries and ailments, UCLA’s bench scoring was instead led by sophomore guard Kiara Jefferson. The guard’s seven points were her most in any conference game this season.
Jefferson also hit her third 3-pointer of Pac-12 play, and said her jump shot has been a point of emphasis in her more focused practicing.
“I’ve been working on the jump shots off of hand-offs and ball screens, trying to get my feet around (and) balanced,” Jefferson said. “I’ve just been mentally and physically preparing to come in the game and contribute in any way possible. I’ve been taking practice a lot more (seriously), focusing in on the little things and executing the game plan.”
UCLA will play its final road game of the regular season in Seattle against Washington on Sunday.