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UCLA women’s basketball dominates the court, defeating UC Riverside

Graduate student guard Gina Conti goes for a layup. After missing the entirety of last season due to injury, Conti played her first minutes for the Bruins on Thursday in UCLA’s victory over UC Riverside. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

Women’s Basketball

UC Riverside43

By Leila Bivins

Nov. 10, 2022 2:14 p.m.

For the second year in a row, the Bruins have begun their season 2-0.

On Thursday morning, UCLA women’s basketball (2-0) defeated UC Riverside (0-2) in its second game of the week at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins opened the contest with a new look from their opening night lineup. Freshman forward Gabriela Jaquez started in her first game and scored the first points of the match for UCLA with an offensive rebound put back. 

Early into the first quarter, graduate student guard Gina Conti stepped on the court in Pauley Pavilion for the first time ever after redshirting last season due to injury. 

With the return of Conti and the addition of the freshman talent, the Bruins now have 11 healthy players ready to enter the court.

“It’s exciting, I haven’t played with this many people since my freshman year,” said senior guard Charisma Osborne. “We’re all so excited for each other when we get to go on the court.”

The blue and gold ended the first quarter leading with the score 10-7, after freshman guard Londynn Jones put up two free throws and Osborne scored a quick field goal to extend the Bruins’ lead.

UCLA opened the second quarter with immediate pressure off their full-court press defensive look. The Bruins relied on this pressure to aid in their scoring, with 28 points coming from turnovers and 16 from fast break plays. 

“That’s (the full court pressure) really a dynamic of who we are,” said coach Cori Close. “There’s just a mental fatigue that comes into play when they have to always think about getting the ball in; they have to think about getting it across half court.”

A layup from Jones raised the score for the Bruins, bringing them to an 11-point lead, but Riverside quickly responded with a five-point run, causing the first UCLA time out of the contest. 

Osborne closed the second quarter with a fast break layup bringing the score to 26-18 at the half. 

The blue and gold began the third quarter with the same defensive strategy as the second maintaining their full-court pressure.

Osborne added to the defensive force picking up 13 rebounds of her own and 12 points across the four quarters, collecting her first double-double of the season. Despite shooting 35% from field goal range, the senior was able to still affect the game on the boards.

“We talk about the different ways she (Osborne) affects plays, 13 rebounds today, I mean that’s nicely done,” Close said. “That’s just a huge piece for us.”

The Bruins gained momentum and held the lead with help from the freshman talent. Freshman forward Christeen Iwuala went on a four-point run early on in the third quarter, knocking down two free throws and a field goal, and freshman guard Kiki Rice added a three-point and one play. 

Redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir caught heat late into the third quarter tallying back-to-back three point shots, to bring her game total to 14 points. Bessoir led the Bruins this game finishing with 16 points. 

After sitting out last year due to an ACL tear, Bessoir is not quite 100% yet, according to Close, but the forward has still managed to score in double digits in the first two games of the season.

“I’m still in the process of getting back, obviously this injury was not a three-week not playing (break), it was 13 months that I did not play,” Bessoir said.  “The coaches, with their feedback, they don’t go easy on me, I want them to coach me hard and they are doing that.”

A UCLA five-point run early in the fourth quarter from Jaquez’s first three-pointer of the day and an Iwuala lay-up caused Riverside to use its first time out of the game. 

Conti knocked down her first points as a Bruin in the fourth quarter, scoring both points from the charity stripe to bring the score to 58-41. With a fast break assist from Rice, Conti added two more points to her tally. 

UCLA closed out the game with the final score of 64-43 to take home its second straight win of the season. 

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Leila Bivins | Sports contributor
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
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