UCLA women’s basketball extends winning streak to 3 with triumph over Troy
Senior guard Charisma Osborne lays the ball in as a Trojan defender looks on. The veteran paced the Bruins with a 29-point and 10-rebound performance Sunday afternoon in the team’s 95-83 victory over Troy. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)
Nov. 13, 2022 4:49 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 13 at 11:35 p.m.
After ceding an 11-0 run that depleted their first-half lead to three, the Bruins followed their leader to a runaway victory.
In the first-ever matchup between the two schools, UCLA women’s basketball (3-0) put up 24 points in the first eight minutes and jumped out to an early 14-point lead against Troy (2-1). But after the Trojans brought the game within one possession midway through the first half, senior guard Charisma Osborne scored 23 of her 29 points to lead the Bruins to a 95-83 win Sunday in Pauley Pavilion.
“We’ve just been talking about responding really well after halftime,” Osborne said. “I have teammates like Kiki (freshman guard Kiki Rice) getting me the ball, … but I think I was just focused on, ‘How can we score, get efficient shots on offense?’”
Following a 3-of-13 shooting performance in the first quarter in its previous game Thursday, the blue and gold made eight of its first 14 shots. The Bruins scored 26 points in the entire first half of their previous game, but sped to a 24-10 lead with more than two minutes left in the first quarter behind point contributions from eight different players.
Rice bested her five-point scoring output in the previous game with six points in the opening period to lead all scorers. She made just one of two shot attempts Thursday, but already had a pair of made field goals less than four minutes into the game as the blue and gold went 57% from the field early on.
But after back-to-back free throws from Rice gave UCLA its largest advantage of the first quarter, the Bruins went scoreless over the final 2:01 of the first frame and first 2:22 of the second. The drought gave way to the Trojans’ first-half burst that cut the lead to 24-21 midway through the first half. The blue and gold sank just two of its next 15 shots after starting the game 8-of-14 from the field.
Coach Cori Close said the offensive respite was a result of poorer defensive play and mental fatigue.
“Whenever we got stops and got out in transition, we were lethal,” Close said. “But all of a sudden we just sort of got lulled to sleep in that. When you score like that early, that should give you momentum and fire to really get down and guard, and we didn’t do that.”
Then Osborne commanded the floor.
After a layup from redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir, Osborne made the Bruins’ next three field goals to push their lead to 41-32.
But the senior guard was just getting started.
UCLA’s leading scorer and an All-Pac-12 selection last season scored 13 points in the third quarter on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, propelling the Bruins to a 26-point third quarter. Osborne also grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists while playing all 10 minutes in the period.
Four of the blue and gold’s five freshmen scored in the third frame before Rice ended the quarter with a dime underneath the basket to Osborne. The Bruins’ only returning starter from last season finished the play with a layup to push her scoring total to 27 points in the first three quarters.
Rice said the team noticed Osborne was locked in and made an effort to get her the ball as much as possible.
“We recognized that Ris (Osborne) was hot early on, and so we just wanted to keep feeding her the ball,” Rice said. “She was knocking down all her shots, making great plays, so when you have a hot teammate, we just talk about feeding them. … It was great to see Ris knocking everything down.”
Behind Osborne, UCLA’s 44-36 halftime lead ballooned to 70-54 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bruins used a 13-4 run in the first 3:43 of the final period to extend the lead to 25 and put the game away.
Rice scored her first career three-pointer and added a layup during the run, while fellow freshman guard Londynn Jones cashed in a pair of baskets of her own during the spurt. Rice finished the game with a career-high 16 points and a game-high plus-minus of 22, while Jones finished with a career-high 11 points of her own.
Rice, the highest-ranked recruit in UCLA history, said she’s becoming increasingly comfortable with every game she plays.
“It’s definitely an adjustment playing at this level,” Rice said. “I’m just kind of focused on doing the small things: defense, rebounding. As we play different kinds of teams and as I get used to playing at this level, I think I’ll get more comfortable.”
Freshman forward Gabriela Jaquez poured in six of her career-high 11 points in the fourth quarter to finish off the Bruins’ third straight win to open the season.
The blue and gold will now test its undefeated record in the Bahamas. UCLA will look to avenge two losses to South Dakota State from last season when the Bruins face off against the No. 23 Jackrabbits in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Saturday.