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UCLA women’s basketball to square off against Oregon State in WNIT quarterfinals

Junior guard Charisma Osborne attempts a shot in the paint in UCLA’s win over UC Irvine on March 18. Osborne has averaged 13 points and seven rebounds through three games in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. (Marc-Anthony Rosas/Daily Bruin)

Women's basketball

Oregon State
Sunday, 12 p.m.

Gill Coliseum
Oregon State Live Stream

By Lauryn Wang

March 26, 2022 3:04 p.m.

The Bruins will face a familiar foe in the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

UCLA women’s basketball (17-12, 8-8 Pac-12) is set to match up against Pac-12 rival Oregon State (17-13, 6-9) in Corvallis on Sunday. With a victory, the blue and gold will advance to the WNIT semifinals to play the winner of Sunday night’s contest between South Dakota State and Alabama.

Both the Bruins and Beavers notched contested wins this week in the third round.

Thursday night, UCLA prevailed after three overtimes against Wyoming, a team that won its first three games of the tournament at home in overtime – including another triple-overtime matchup in the second round – but fell short in the final seconds of the 55-minute contest against the blue and gold. Oregon State trailed by as many as 18 points against New Mexico but managed to come out on top with a late comeback.

The two Pac-12 programs will have a chance to continue their respective momentum Sunday in both teams’ first meeting with a fellow Power Five team this tournament. The Bruins met the Beavers once this year, falling by a score of 72-58 on the road Jan. 30.

Junior guard Charisma Osborne said she is looking for a shot at redemption Sunday, especially since she, along with graduate student guard Jaelynn Penn and redshirt freshman forward Angela Dugalić, sat out the regular season contest against Oregon State with injuries.

“I’m super excited to go back up there,” Osborne said. “I wasn’t playing, a couple of other people weren’t playing, so I’m super excited to come back and get a second chance.”

Although UCLA was the top seed in the Pac-12 to not make the NCAA Tournament and was thus an automatic qualifier for the WNIT, Oregon State – which received an at-large bid – will host the quarterfinal matchup.

But the Bruins have already experienced a postseason road environment. Thursday’s matchup in Wyoming attracted over 4,200 spectators, almost quadruple what UCLA garnered at home in the second round against Air Force.

After the Wyoming game, Osborne said the players could barely hear over the noise of the crowd, and coach Cori Close added that the attendance of opposing fans challenged her team to rise to the occasion.

“I love that the town of Laramie came out in a major way, and it was such a fun atmosphere to be a part of,” Close said. “I think we proved to be the tougher, more together team tonight (Thursday) in a really hostile environment.”

Besides tuning out the noise, graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas said she is confident the Bruins’ preparation will pay off in other ways on the court.

“We’re going to watch film, we’re going to execute our (scouting) report, and our coaches are going to have us prepared,” Thomas said. “We’ve already been out there once this year.”

Sunday’s game marks UCLA’s sixth postseason game this year, with the team winning four of those – including three straight to stand as one of the last eight teams in the tournament. Like the Bruins, the Beavers fell in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament and have won three consecutive contests in a row in the WNIT.

Thomas said the team has overcome the learning curves of this season – including the addition of eight players who weren’t on the roster last year, six COVID-19-related postponements or cancellations, and injuries throughout the season – and is now better equipped to face the home stretch of the season.

“Every single experience we’ve had, we’ve been able to learn from and bounce back from it,” Thomas said. “We don’t expect a different outcome on Sunday.”

The Bruins will tip off against the Beavers at 12 p.m. on Sunday

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Lauryn Wang | Assistant Sports editor
Wang is currently an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and women's golf beats.
Wang is currently an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and women's golf beats.
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