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UCLA women’s basketball overpowers Florida State at Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase

Sophomore center Lauren Betts jumps in the air for a layup above her opponents. Betts recorded her fifth double-double on the season with 22 points and 18 rebounds against Florida State. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

By Ira Gorawara

Dec. 10, 2023 11:44 a.m.

This post was updated Dec. 10 at 12:28 p.m.

It took just 37 seconds for the Bruins’ course to be chartered Sunday morning.

A deft dish in the paint unveiled the curtain on Lauren Betts’ show, a gig that held its encore until the final act of the affair.

It was almost timely of the sophomore center to deliver a 22-point performance in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase.

“Every game, she has to be the start of our focus,” said coach Cori Close. “It is going to look a little different every time, and it doesn’t just influence how we give her the ball, but what it creates for the people around her.”

Behind Betts’ season-high-tying tally – featuring a 62.5% field goal percentage – No. 2 UCLA women’s basketball (9-0) shut down No. 20 Florida State (7-4) at Mohegan Sun Arena. Despite early foul trouble, the Bruins managed to barricade the Seminoles from the paint early to force contested layups and a valiant 3-point assault from beyond the arc – neither of which could manufacture a victory for their opponents.

The Bruins recognized their advantage promptly – their 6-foot-7 big held the upper hand over what proved a shorter lineup for the Seminoles. Between dishes inside the key for Betts to convert and put-back layups from UCLA’s offensive stalwart, Betts’ production took a dual manifestation.

“Over time, I can see my growth,” Betts said. “I’ve got more aggressive and I’m finishing over like athletic guys.”

A 90% shooting clip unfolded for Betts in the opening half, generating a team-high 18 points. But alongside double-digit figures from both guards sophomore Londynn Jones and graduate student Charisma Osborne to close out the period, the Bruins were en route to yet another double-digit victory with a 14-point differential.

The charity stripe became a frequent destination for the Seminoles in the first half as nearly every Bruin conceded a foul. Florida State converted all but two free throws to grant seven uncontested shots to their 40-point total at the half.

Graduate student guard Charisma Osborne orchestrates her team on the court. Osborne had 16 points against the Seminoles on Sunday morning.
(Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

Early foul trouble sent UCLA’s primary playmaker in sophomore guard Kiki Rice to the bench early on the back of two personals. A switch to zone defense midway through the half mitigated the Bruins’ foul predicament but inadvertently bore the effect of openings for Florida State to unleash its first-half 3-point barrage.

“It (The zone defense) did allow us to have some success in keeping our people out of foul trouble,” Close said. “I thought they were in such a good rhythm getting downhill that the zone just made them have to attack from a different rhythm. Yeah, they hit a three, but we got a couple turnovers, we forced a couple shots, they weren’t getting all the way to the paint, so I did think the zone was really effective for us in disrupting rhythm.”

The Bruin zone fashioned a defensive fortress in the paint, thwarting any penetration by the Seminoles to rack up easy layups. But hot hands on the 3-point line allowed the Seminoles to compensate for their woes down low. With seven of 12 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half, the team forged a sharp deviation from their .336 average clip from deep.

Although it was efficiency from the 3-point line that marshaled the Seminoles to single-point margins in the first half, the opening act of the third quarter featured a response to the Bruin barricade in the paint – one that took shape in an 11-5 run featuring four layups and a jumper on a fast break.

“The second half, we gave up way too many layups,” Close said. “The thing I was most disappointed in our defense is that we didn’t make it our focus in keeping them out of the paint. They’re going to make hard shots. They’re good players, and that’s what they do. But reality is that it’s the easy ones we gave up that I thought we could be much more consistent on.”

Inching its tally closer to its opponents, Florida State created an eight-point deficit early in the third quarter. But a takeover by UCLA’s veteran players in Osborne and senior forward Angela Dugalić ballooned UCLA’s lead to nearly 20 points.

Close said the guards leveraged Dugalić’s mismatch on the court to spur her 16-point delivery.

“It was one of the first times this year that besides Lauren, we found a mismatch. We had a series in there with Angela Dugalić that I thought they didn’t have an answer for her,” Close said. “We were able to find that several possessions in a row in different ways and that is really the maturity of our guards in being able to find that mismatch.”

In the final 10-minute effort of the contest, Florida State forward Makayla Timpson and guard Ta’Niya Latson picked up the first four points of the frame. But Rice outfoxed the Seminoles’ attempts as she followed a layup with a balletic spin around her defender to elude her defenders and fabricate an unanswerable play.

A 15-point deficit on the scoreboard wasn’t enough to decelerate Florida State’s motors, as guard Sara Bejedi snatched an and-1 to roll her squad’s total closer to UCLA despite just over four minutes left of action.

Fifty-two points in the paint later, UCLA orchestrated its symphony around Betts – but in a display of its multifaceted orchestra, four other Bruins logged double-digit figures en route to a 17-point triumph in Connecticut.

“We haven’t looked at the rankings and the recognition that we’ve gotten as any sort of pressure,” Rice said. “I think it’s really a motivating factor to continue to work every day, get better and play at the level we need to play at to end up at the end of the year at the Final Four.”

Ultimately, the Bruins had authored their chapter of the Hall of Fame Showcase with winning strokes.

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Ira Gorawara | Assistant Sports editor
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
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