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UCLA women’s basketball ends winning streak with losses in Gulf Coast Showcase

Junior guard Charisma Osborne brings the ball up the court. Osborne averaged 18.3 points for UCLA women’s basketball across three games in the Gulf Coast Showcase. (Lauren Man/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's basketball


Kent State75
No. 19 UCLA69
No. 19 UCLA66
South Dakota State76
St. John's65
No. 19 UCLA73

By Grace Whitaker

Nov. 29, 2021 12:37 a.m.

Correction: The original version of this article misspelled IImar’I Thomas’ name.

This post was updated Nov. 29 at 5:55 p.m.

The Bruins are leaving the Sunshine State with their first two losses of the season.

No. 19 UCLA women’s basketball (4-2) traveled to Estero, Florida, for the Gulf Coast Showcase – a three-round tournament featuring eight teams. Though it entered the week undefeated, the blue and gold took back-to-back losses against Kent State (5-1) and South Dakota State (3-4) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, before beating St. John’s (3-4) on Sunday morning to finish seventh in the tournament.

Coach Cori Close said her team simply was overmatched against its unranked opponent Friday.

“We got outplayed in almost every facet of the game,” Close said. “I’m really worried about the lack of commitment to championship habits and how hard we played and the lack of heart that we show.”

The Bruins held the lead over the Golden Flashes until there was four minutes remaining in the second quarter when a 3-pointer from forward Lindsey Thall made the score 28-28. The shot came in the middle of an 11-2 Kent State run to close the first half.

UCLA was able to take a 52-48 lead at the end of the third but ultimately fell short in the fourth quarter by allowing another double-digit run – this one with minutes remaining – to give Kent State the victory.

Junior guard Charisma Osborne returned to the court Friday after a one-game hiatus because of a foot injury. In her first game back, she led the team in scoring for the second time this season with 21 points.

Osborne said after the game against Virginia, she was happy to be back on the floor.

“I was really excited to come back and play with my team,” Osborne said. “But moving forward, we just need to make better choices. When we get to the Pac-12, if we don’t do that, we’re going to get blown out.”

Osborne continued to pace her team offensively throughout the tournament, averaging 18.3 points across the three games. In the Bruins’ final game of the showcase against the Red Storm, Osborne finished with a double-double by securing 11 rebounds – tied for the second-highest mark of her career.

In each of the three games, Osborne was a foul away from fouling out. As a team, the Bruins committed 21 fouls in their second game against the Jackrabbits, contributing to an average of 20.3 for the tournament and 17.8 on the season – 1.8 fouls higher than the mark set by last year’s squad.

In the fourth quarter against St. John’s, UCLA again found itself in foul trouble, as graduate transfer forward IImar’I Thomas, graduate transfer guard Jaelynn Penn, redshirt senior guard Kayla Owens and Osborne each had three or more fouls.

Graduate transfer guard Natalie Chou said her team came in with the mindset of being aggressive, which may have led to the high fouling rates.

“We wanted to come out with a lot of energy,” Chou said. “We didn’t particularly want to come out fouling, but we wanted to be aggressive.”

Even with two defeats over the weekend, Close said every loss is a learning opportunity for growth, and the tournament is helping to expose the Bruins’ weaknesses.

“Whether we win or whether we lost, the reality is we’ve got to grow and get better,” Close said. “We got exposed in some things this weekend. I’m proud of some people that stepped up who grew.”

After allowing the game to stay close Sunday – with St. John’s leading with 2:30 left in the third quarter – UCLA outscored its opponent 25-16 the rest of the way to end the showcase in victorious fashion.

Close said she told her team at the half that it has the potential to be that team every game.

“I just told the locker room, ‘We don’t have it yet,’” Close said. “But there’s no reason they can’t fight to become that kind of team. I’m saying it right now, they’re going to grab something different.”

UCLA will next head back home with a matchup against San Jose State on Sunday.

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Grace Whitaker
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