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After 1st loss of the season, UCLA women’s basketball faces road to redemption

Graduate student guard Charisma Osborne dribbles against a defender. Osborne scored a season-high 25 points against the Trojans. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Basketball

No. 3 Colorado
Friday, 5 p.m.

Boulder, CO
Pac-12 Networks
No. 20 Utah
Monday, 4 p.m.

Salt Lake City, UT

By Gavin Carlson

Jan. 19, 2024 10:49 a.m.

It’s been more than 70 days since the Bruins opened their regular season.

This week, the team experienced its first practices following a loss.

No. 5 UCLA women’s basketball (14-1, 3-1 Pac-12) will have its first opportunity to bounce back from defeat when it travels to face No. 3 Colorado (15-1, 5-0) on Friday before squaring off against No. 20 Utah (12-5, 2-3) on Monday. The Bruins’ perfect start to the season was ended on Sunday by their crosstown rival, as then-No. 9 USC led for most of the game in a 73-65 Trojan victory at a sold-out Galen Center.

“Obviously, we’re all just shocked about how that game turned out,” said sophomore center Lauren Betts. “I think some of us got exposed.”

Betts’ 10 points against USC tied for her second-fewest of the campaign and her second-lowest shooting total all season after taking just five shots. The 6-foot-7 center’s only quieter offensive performance came in a 97-46 blowout over Niagara, in which Betts played just five minutes.

Betts said her lack of involvement was because of her own team’s decision-making.

“It was just the flow of the game,” Betts said. “I don’t think necessarily it was the ‘SC players, it was just more us as a team and what we were trying to figure out to do on offense.”

While Betts was still an efficient 4-of-5 from the field, the Bruin offense as a whole struggled to consistently make shots.

UCLA shot 40% from the field and an alarming 18% from behind the arc, and when the team wasn’t missing a majority of its shots, it was giving the ball away.

The Bruins tied for the second-most turnovers in a game this season with 22, and their usual ability on the glass as the best rebounding team in the nation did not show either – as they were outscored 14-4 on second-chance points by the Trojans.

Sunday may have resulted in the team’s first loss, but it was the culmination of offensive struggles that were beginning to reveal themselves when conference play began.

After scoring at least 76 points in every non-conference game – including contests against then-No. 6 Connecticut, then-No. 20 Florida State and then-No. 13 Ohio State – UCLA failed to reach that mark in its first four games against Pac-12 opponents. Additionally, the Bruins have shot below 40% in the four-game stretch, shot below 25% from deep in two of the four games and scored a season-low 65 points in back-to-back games.

While UCLA has sputtered offensively, it has also brought out a more aggressive Charisma Osborne.

The graduate student guard has taken at least 15 shots in three of the four Pac-12 contests after reaching that number just once in the 11 games prior. Osborne had a season-high 25 points at the Galen Center on Sunday despite shooting 0-of-6 on 3-pointers.

Osborne’s scoring performance helped her surpass 2,000 career points in her illustrious five-year career.

“Just in the global scheme of things, when you think 2,000 points and you look at the other people on that list, that pretty much tells you all you need to know,” said coach Cori Close. “But then when you add the emotional leadership, how she put the whole team on her back, … how she willed us to come back in that game, now you’re talking about special.”

UCLA will need Osborne and the rest of its main contributors to be at their best on Friday in Boulder.

Colorado rose two spots to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 after defeating No. 8 Stanford last week. The Buffaloes rank second in the Pac-12 in forced turnovers, and their physicality is something the Bruins are preparing for.

“Colorado’s a tough team. They’re really physical, and they’re going to want to push us around,” Osborne said.

After Colorado, UCLA will be tested against a prolific Utah team, which ranks first in scoring and shooting efficiency both inside and behind the 3-point line.

Following their first loss of the season, two top-20 road matchups await the Bruins this weekend.

The grind of the Pac-12 is just beginning.

“We need to come in and be really tough,” Osborne said. “We didn’t really show that last week, and I know we’re such a tough team.”

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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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