Women’s basketball maintains home winning streak despite slow starts
UCLA women’s basketball junior guard Charisma Osborne shoots over the outstretched hands of Washington State guard Grace Sarver during the two teams’ matchup Sunday. Osborne’s game-high 25 points helped propel the Bruins to a win. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)
Jan. 19, 2022 5:45 p.m.
Entering last week, the Bruins hadn’t scored fewer than 10 points in a quarter all season.
Then, they followed up a season-low, seven first-quarter points Friday against Washington with eight Sunday against Washington State.
Despite the slow starts and early deficits, UCLA women’s basketball (7-4, 2-1 Pac-12) ended up completing a weekend sweep of its Pac-12 foes from the north.
Against Washington, graduate student guard Jaelynn Penn went 5-of-5 in the third quarter to secure the lead for UCLA for the remainder of the game, while junior guard Charisma Osborne posted 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the second quarter against Washington State to vault UCLA back into contention.
Much like the majority of last season, the Bruins were limited to the NCAA minimum requirement of seven active players in both games. This comes despite the preseason additions of four transfers and four players who were not with the team last year.
Yet, UCLA has maintained its perfect home record on the season while jumping up to third in the Pac-12 standings behind No. 2 Stanford and Oregon. Coach Cori Close said the slow starts are far from ideal but are part of growing pains as the team works to play through its adversities.
“The combination of adding eight new players who weren’t on our roster and then having … three kids that might have been starting for us (getting injured) … has been harder than I thought,” Close said. “Every game, we’re learning a little more about our identity.”
Osborne – who ranks second in the conference in points per game with 18.3 – is also dealing with injuries. Close said having the third-year as a starter was a game-time decision against Washington State, especially since Osborne’s ability to practice had been limited in the week leading up to the contest.
After the victory over the Cougars, in which Osborne posted 25 points, four assists and four rebounds, she said the team’s bench energizes the rest of the team, particularly after a difficult start.
“Everyone stepped up – the bench was just coming to us and telling us what to do,” Osborne said. “I think the people that are playing know that we are all we need, and the people on the bench that aren’t (playing) give us the energy to help us out a lot.”
Close said she commended her players’ response to the slow start against Washington State but hopes the momentum and lessons learned from the homestand will translate to future success for her team this season.
“I think this one was a really important one for us – our discipline kicked in,” Close said. “Those first three minutes, you have to control your focus, your energy, your effort and concentration. … We didn’t do that in the first few minutes, but I’m really proud of their response (and) proud that they were able to make some key decisions to turn that attitude around.”
Graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas said the Bruins hold each other accountable and will continue to do so throughout the season.
“It is just important for us to come together and not make excuses,” Thomas said. “Just find a way every single day to get better.”