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UCLA women’s basketball falls in 1st home loss to Colorado since 2014

Graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas drives in for a layup while surrounded by Colorado defenders. Thomas recorded 17 points and eight rebounds in UCLA women’s basketball’s home loss to Colorado on Friday evening. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Women’s basketball


Colorado67
UCLA54

By Gavin Carlson

Feb. 18, 2022 9:30 p.m.

With the opportunity to earn their third win in their last nine contests, the Bruins found themselves tied with the Buffaloes midway through the second quarter.

But from that point on, UCLA was outscored 22-6 in the next 10 minutes of action and ultimately took a loss to drop below .500 in the Pac-12 standings for the first time since losing its conference season opener to the same team Jan. 9.

UCLA women’s basketball (11-11, 6-7 Pac-12) fell to Colorado (17-7, 6-7) by a score of 67-54 in its first home loss against the Pac-12 foe since 2014. Outside of 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas, the Bruins shot 26% for the game to fall to 0-2 against Colorado on the season.

Coach Cori Close said her team failed to execute her game plan during the loss.

“There are very few people on our Bruin roster that executed the scouting report,” Close said. “I know how to make a plan. Follow the plan.”

After entering Friday’s contest averaging 10.8 points per game in her last five games, Thomas put up 11 points in the first quarter – including the first eight of the game for the blue and gold. The forward sank all four of her field-goal attempts during that stretch and added a 3-pointer later in the quarter to complete a perfect shooting quarter.

Thomas said the fact that she’s nearing the end of her fifth collegiate season played a factor in her aggressiveness in the opening minutes of the game.

“I’m a fifth-year senior, so these are my last couple guaranteed games,” Thomas said. “We talked about (it), even as a team, … just leave it all out there for 40 minutes. So coming out and just looking to score, … that helps us to hit the other team first.”

The rest of the Bruins combined to shoot 2-of-9 from the field in the opening period and committed four turnovers just two days after recording six turnovers and nine points in the first quarter against Oregon. After Thomas’ 3-pointer with 2:11 remaining, the blue and gold failed to score again for the remainder of the quarter.

On the defensive end, UCLA forced four turnovers itself and ended the first quarter with the score tied at 17 despite zero shot attempts from its leading scorer, junior guard Charisma Osborne.

Osborne’s scoreless start continued throughout the entire second quarter. Aside from four more points from Thomas, the Bruins shot 3-of-14 from the field, including 0-of-3 shooting from Osborne. After a Thomas layup tied the game at 26 points with 4:05 left in the second quarter, the Buffaloes went on an 11-4 run to end the first half with a 37-30 lead.

Close said the opponent’s change to zone defense altered the game and gave her team trouble.

“When adversity hit, when they went zone and we started turning it over, … we never got our cohesion back,” Close said. “Their zone forces you to do that a little bit. It forces this chaotic style of play, but the reality is we have to take responsibility.”

Colorado continued to expand its lead to begin the second half thanks to a 6-0 run in the first two minutes and an 11-2 run in the first four minutes of the third quarter overall. The blue and gold made one of its first six shots while the Buffaloes made three of their first five to extend their lead to 48-32.

After her 15-point first half on 7-of-8 shooting, Thomas didn’t attempt a shot in the entire third quarter. Though Osborne finally got on the board with eight points in the period, the rest of the Bruins shot 2-of-9 while committing six fouls that led to eight made free throws for the Buffaloes.

Trailing 59-44 heading into the fourth quarter, UCLA conceded a layup in the first 22 seconds before holding Colorado scoreless for the next three minutes and 19 seconds. But the Bruins only cut four points into the large deficit and missed ten of their first 12 shots to begin the final period before ultimately falling short.

With the loss, UCLA has now dropped seven of its last nine games.

Osborne said she is going to try to bring the team closer as the team enters its final few matchups of the regular season.

“We just need to play more together as a team,” Osborne said. “I’m just going to take that to the next game and try to be a better leader for this team so this doesn’t happen again.”

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Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staffer on the women's basketball and softball beats. He was previously a reporter on the men's golf beat.
Carlson is currently a staffer on the women's basketball and softball beats. He was previously a reporter on the men's golf beat.
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