BERKELEY, Calif. (AP)Cori Close will challenge her UCLA women to rebound better, a glaring area that nearly cost the Bruins an important road win.
Sure, they’re undersized – and Close reminds her players that’s not going to change over the season’s final month.
Michaela Onyenwere hit a go-ahead jumper in the paint with 25.7 seconds left and scored seven of her 22 points in overtime, and No. 10 UCLA held off California for a hard-fought 74-70 victory Sunday to complete an impressive Bay Area sweep.
Close credited the Bruins for finding Onyenwere when it mattered down the stretch.
”They’re a great team. They gave us a run for our money,” Onyenwere said.
Jaelyn Brown’s 3-pointer for Cal tied it with 1:37 left and Charisma Osborne missed from the top of the arc before CJ West grabbed another timely rebound for the Golden Bears. But Cal couldn’t capitalize and a jump ball went UCLA’s way with 17.6 seconds left.
Osborne scored 17 points, Natalie Chou added 12 and Japreece Dean dished out seven assists for the Bruins (21-2, 10-2 Pac-12), who beat Cal for the sixth straight time in the series. Coming off a win Friday night at No. 6 Stanford, UCLA won its third straight since a loss at Arizona on Jan. 31.
Leilani McIntosh had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Cal, which stayed in it until the end.
”This is the standard. This is what we expect,” first-year Cal coach Charmin Smith said.
The Bruins had several chances to win in the closing seconds of regulation. Close called timeout to set up a final play with 5.3 seconds left, but Dean missed a 3 from the right wing at the buzzer.
West converted two free throws with 1:30 left in regulation for Cal that tied the game at 63, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Onyenwere missed an off-balance jumper.
Brown scored 17 points to lead Cal (9-14, 1-11), which saw its home losing streak reach seven games but still had plenty of positives to take from this defeat.
”This will be Cal basketball and it will end up giving us Ws,” Smith told fans after the final buzzer.
The Bears overcame poor shooting by bringing energy on both ends of the floor to fluster the Bruins, getting hands in faces on defense and crashing the offensive boards to create second opportunities to score. West blocked out with authority to pull down key rebounds, finishing with 12 boards and 11 points.
”It was amazing, we needed that or sure,” Brown said of West’s post presence.
Onyenwere shot 8 for 17. The junior forward had 29 points and 10 rebounds in a 79-69 victory at No. 6 Stanford on Friday night that snapped the Cardinal’s 16-game home winning streak in Maples Pavilion. She came out firing again Sunday.
When UCLA heads into the film room, the basics of rebounding will be a topic. The Bruins were outrebounded by 15.
”To be really blunt, we’ve got to buck up and grow in that area, period,” Close said. ”We’ve been undersized the whole year. We’ve played great rebounders all year long. We’ve got to do some soul searching about what we need to do to change that because when we play well, we rebound. When we don’t play well, that’s what goes.”
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Cal blocked out and went hard to the boards at every chance – grabbing 11 on the offensive end in the first half for a 27-16 rebounding advantage that helped the Bears stay within 36-32 at the break.
The Bears finished 54-39 on the boards overall and had many of the fans at Haas Pavilion on their feet.
”If we didn’t keep them off of the glass we had no chance,” Smith said.
UCLA: Chou came to the bench with 2:14 left in OT after a hard hit to the face. … UCLA hit 5 of 7 3-point tries in the first quarter and wound up 7 for 17 from deep. … The Bruins are 9-2 on the road.
California: Cal missed its first four shots and began 0 for 5 on 3s and 3 for 11 overall, but the Golden Bears hung tough by holding a 12-8 rebounding advantage and converting 8 of 10 free throws in the opening quarter. … The Bears dropped to 1-8 this season against ranked opponents. … They will look back on six missed free throws (14 of 20).
UCLA: Hosts third-ranked Oregon on Friday night in a showdown of conference powers.
California: At Colorado on Friday having won two straight and four of the last five in Boulder.
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