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Women’s basketball defeats Wyoming in triple overtime, advances to quarterfinals

Graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas holds the ball on the perimeter. Thomas recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the third overtime period.
(Marc-Anthony Rosas/Daily Bruin)

Women’s basketball


By Gavin Carlson

March 24, 2022 8:42 p.m.

Despite trailing in the final moments of regulation and the first two overtimes, the Bruins kept their season alive with a triple-overtime victory.

UCLA women’s basketball (17-12, 8-8 Pac-12) survived their first triple-overtime game since 2019 with an 82-81 win over Wyoming (17-13, 11-6 Mountain West) in Round 3 of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in Laramie, Wyoming on Thursday evening. 

“At the beginning of the game, I said, ‘We got to stay connected for 40 minutes,'” said coach Cori Close. “I didn’t know it was going to be 55.”

After graduate student guard Natalie Chou drilled a 3-pointer with 1:27 left in regulation to send the game to overtime, graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas converted a spinning left-handed layup to tie the game with three seconds left in overtime. In the second extra period, junior guard Charisma Osborne made three free throws with 16 seconds left to send the game into a third overtime before scoring six in the final five minutes to close out the Cowgirls.

“We believe in each other so much,” Thomas said. “Whoever’s turn it was in overtime, and even at the end of regulation, we just kept our composure, and every single person was able to do their role today. It was just time for us to step up.”

Despite starting the game 1-of-9 from the floor, the Bruins led 4-2 after the first 5 ½ minutes. However, Wyoming responded with an 8-2 run in the next three minutes to gain a 10-6 lead. But as both teams would do throughout the entire game, the Bruins caught back up with a run of their own.

In the final minute of the opening period, graduate student guard Jaelynn Penn scored six straight points to double her team’s scoring output from the previous nine minutes and gave the blue and gold a 12-10 lead heading into the second period.

Following a jumper from Penn and back-to-back layups from Thomas to give UCLA its largest lead of the first half at five midway through the second quarter, Wyoming guards Alba Sanchez Ramos and McKinley Bradshaw hit consecutive 3-pointers to regain a 23-22 lead. The pair finished the game with 35 combined points.

Despite the blue and gold upping its shooting efficiency from 29.4% in the first period to 50% in the second, the Cowgirls shot 75% from the field in the frame and connected on 4-of-5 3-point attempts to match the Bruins’ 20-point quarter and hold UCLA’s lead to 32-30 at halftime.

“Their ability to catch and shoot in really critical moments – … they kept stepping up time and time again,” Close said. “They’re really well coached, (and) their kids played with great confidence. … It was such a fun atmosphere to be a part of and so credit to them.

Osborne drilled a 3-pointer with 7:31 left in the third frame, but the Cowgirls responded with a 6-0 run in the next two minutes – including consecutive baskets from Bradshaw – to even the game at 39.

UCLA held Wyoming scoreless over the next four minutes to regain the advantage with a 5-0 spurt of its own, but the Cowgirl duo of Sanchez Ramos and Bradshaw each converted a pair of free throws in the final 1:16 to cut the Bruin lead to 44-43 heading into the fourth quarter.

With both teams’ seasons on the line, UCLA and Wyoming shot a combined 7-of-27 from the field in the fourth period.

Outside of five points on 2-of-4 shooting from Sanchez Ramos, the Cowgirls shot 25% from the field and turned the ball over three times in the period. Meanwhile, the Bruins shot 20% from the field and missed their first five 3-point attempts before Chou converted from deep to send the game to overtime.

Thomas scored the first five points for UCLA in the first overtime before Wyoming went on a 6-0 run. After a Penn layup cut the lead to one and the Cowgirls split a pair of free throws, Thomas finished a layup in the final seconds to send the game to a second overtime.

With the blue and gold fouling, Wyoming gained four 3-point leads in the final minute of the second extra period. The blue and gold responded the first three times with two layups from Penn and a layup from Osborne. The fourth time around, Osborne was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 16 seconds left and converted all three free throws to send the game to a third overtime.

Even while facing multiple late deficits, Osborne said the team never doubted it would win.

“I don’t think ever at one point in the game we thought, ‘We’re going to lose,’” Osborne said. “We practice these situations all the time in practice. I think everyone was super prepared.”

After Thomas – UCLA’s leading scorer at the time with 18 points – fouled out 39 seconds into the third overtime, Wyoming led 76-75 and was less than two minutes from its second consecutive triple-overtime win. But Chou responded with an and-one layup and converted the free throw before an Osborne layup pushed the Bruin lead to four with 55 seconds left.

Despite two more made field goals from its opponents, including a deep 3-pointer with six seconds left to cut the lead to one, UCLA walked out of Wyoming victorious to advance to the WNIT Quarterfinals.

“We’re expecting to win the WNIT,” Osborne said. “We don’t have any other expectations besides that.”

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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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