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Defensive discipline down the stretch lifts UCLA women’s basketball above Oregon State

Freshman forward Lina Sontag sets up to shoot the corner 3-pointer. Sontag accounted for two of the Bruins’ three makes from deep and tallied a career-high five steals Friday. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

women’s basketball

Oregon State54
No. 18 UCLA62

By Gavin Carlson

Feb. 10, 2023 7:43 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 10 at 8:07 p.m.

With seven minutes to play, the Bruins trailed the 10th-place Beavers by multiple possessions. 

But despite its worst 3-point shooting performance of the season, the blue and gold finally came up clutch late to keep its hopes of a top-four spot in the Pac-12 alive.

No. 18 UCLA women’s basketball (19-6, 8-5 Pac-12) overcame a late five-point deficit and 3-of-27 shooting from behind the arc to survive a Friday night upset bid from Oregon State (11-13, 3-10) with a 62-54 win. The Bruins outscored the Beavers 16-3 in the final 6:49 of the game to earn their first single-digit victory in six games.

Coach Cori Close said the blue and gold excelled in key details such as rebounding and deflections to overcome a poor performance on the other end of the ball.

“We shot horribly, we didn’t play well offensively. … It was an ugly game to watch from an offensive perspective,” Close said. “But the bottom line is we find a way to win (by) doing the things under your control, and we did that.”

UCLA outpaced Oregon State with a 38-35 rebounding advantage, outscored its opponents 29-19 off the bench and did not allow a made field goal in the final 7:13 of the game.

The opening 10 minutes weren’t pretty for the fan of high-scoring basketball, as the offenses combined for more turnovers than made shots in the initial period.

Both teams combined to commit nine turnovers while shooting 8-of-29 from the field and 0-of-13 from behind the arc in the first quarter. The Bruins missed their first eight shots, with seven of them coming from 3-point range, but forced six turnovers to escape the opening period with a 10-8 lead.

The blue and gold began its dismal shooting performance from deep with an 0-of-9 start from behind the arc in the quarter.

UCLA ignited a better offensive performance for each team in the second quarter by making three of its first four shots to secure an 18-14 lead. Later in the period, senior guard Charisma Osborne and freshman forward Gabriela Jaquez sank back-to-back buckets to push the score to 25-19.

Senior guard Charisma Osborne looks to drive the baseline. Osborne collected her fourth double-double of the season behind 14 points and 10 rebounds Friday evening. (Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Jaquez said the team made it a point of emphasis to get inside after the poor shooting start from behind the arc.

“At the start of the game, we shot seven threes right away, and we just said (to) hunt to the paint first and get a kick out,” Jaquez said. “They were really good shots and they were open, but I think we do best when we hunt the paint. If the ball touches the paint, we usually get a good shot.”

Osborne and Jaquez ultimately combined for 12 of the team’s 21 second-quarter points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. The rest of the team shot just 30%.

Oregon State responded to the six-point deficit with an 8-0 run in a minute and a half to take a 27-25 lead, but a buzzer-beating layup eventually gave UCLA a 31-29 lead at halftime.

But the Beavers came out hot in the second half.

Oregon State began the third on a 7-0 run over a 1:32 span before later using back-to-back jumpers to earn its largest lead of the game at eight points with 1:32 left in the quarter. But the blue and gold then forced three turnovers in the final 1:29 of the period and went on a quick 5-0 run in the final minute to cut the lead to three heading into the fourth.

Trailing 51-46 with 6:49 to play, the Bruins finally strung together a strong final stretch in a tight game to pull out the victory.

After a free throw from freshman guard Kiki Rice, Osborne and Jaquez each scored a pair of back-to-back baskets to regain the lead. Then freshman forward Lina Sontag, who snagged two of her career-high five steals in the final quarter, drilled UCLA’s third 3-pointer of the game to extend the Bruins’ run to 12-0 and earn a 58-51 lead with 2:40 remaining. 

Neither team scored a field goal for the remainder of the game to seal the tight win for the blue and gold.

In addition to her takeaways, Sontag finished with 11 points, six rebounds and drained two of UCLA’s three 3-pointers in the team’s dreadful 3-of-27 shooting performance from deep. Osborne finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Jaquez had a team-high 14 points on 66.6% shooting.

Osborne praised Jaquez for her ability to uplift the team from the bench and do the dirty work once she steps on the floor.

“She is literally the biggest cheerleader for everyone else, so when she has a really good game, it’s super fun to see,” Osborne said. “When she comes in or when she’s playing with you, you know that she’s going to give it her all, and she’s going to do whatever it takes for the team to be in a good position.”

Despite 11% shooting from 3-point range, the Bruins will head into Sunday’s matchup on a two-game winning streak and within striking distance of a top-four seed and first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

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