UCLA Women’s Basketball Knocks Out Arizona in Pac-12 Quarterfinals

The Bruins led by double digits for the final 15 minutes of the contest, setting them up for yet another trip to the conference semifinals.

A combined 36 points from guard Charisma Osborne and forward Emily Bessoir led the Bruins to a spot in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.

No. 5 seed UCLA women’s basketball (24-8, 11-7 Pac-12) put Wednesday’s near-collapse behind them against No. 4 Arizona (21-9, 11-7 Pac-12) on Thursday afternoon, leading from the second quarter onward en route to a 73-59 victory. The Bruins will face off against No. 2 seed Stanford or No. 9 seed Oregon in the next round for a shot at a spot the Pac-12 title game.

In the opening round, however, UCLA was pushed to the brink by No. 12 seed Arizona State, squandering a 19-point second-half lead before eventually prevailing 81-70 in overtime.

The Bruins kept their momentum from Wednesday’s overtime alive on Thursday, going ahead 8-2 courtesy of six points from guard Camryn Brown, who entered the contest averaging 2.9 points a night. The Wildcats kept the score close in the first quarter, though, taking a 19-18 lead before the end of the period.

Osborne started to take over midway through the second quarter, and it was all UCLA from there.

The Moreno Valley, Calif., native scored an and-one layup to tie the game at 25, and later boosted the Bruins’ lead with four consecutive points to help give them a 33-31 halftime advantage. Osborne ended the contest with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Forward Gabriela Jaquez also made her mark in the first half. The 5-foot-11 freshman scored four points off the bench in the second quarter alone.

Despite having just a two-point lead heading into the third quarter, the Bruins pulled away from the Wildcats in the second half. 

Quickfire buckets from Osborne, Bessoir and guard Gina Conti broadened UCLA’s lead to 40-31 less than two minutes into the period. Guard Londynn Jones sunk a 3-pointer with 5:18 left – her only field goal of the day – to give coach Cori Close’s team a 12-point advantage. 

With time dwindling in the third quarter, Brown was fouled on a layup and swished the and-1 free throw to expand the lead to 16.

Arizona was unable to keep pace, falling victim to a 4-for-25 shooting stretch from the midpoint of the second quarter all the way to the beginning of the fourth. Even when the Wildcats’ offense came back to life in the final frame, they were still only able to shoot 35.7% from the field, and they were outscored 18-16 regardless.

Bessoir sunk back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter after missing her first three attempts from beyond the arc. The German post ended the match-up with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks.

The Bruins hounded the boards and grabbed 46 rebounds compared to the Wildcats’ 27. On the offensive glass, UCLA secured 17 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points.

Thursday’s win helped the Bruins put not only their shaky finish from Wednesday behind firmly in the near view mirror, but also their five-point home loss to the Wildcats on Feb. 3, when they led by 11 with less than five minutes to go.

Meanwhile, UCLA lost to Stanford twice in conference action, but now has a chance to possibly rewrite the story against the Cardinal on Friday. The Bruins have already beaten Oregon twice, on the other hand, and another rematch could give them an opportunity to complete the trifecta.

The Pac-12 tournament semifinal is set to tip-off at Michelob ULTRA Arena at 6 p.m. Friday night and will be televised on Pac-12 Network.

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