No. 8 UCLA defeats 13th-ranked Colorado 53-45 and moves into a tie for 2nd in Pac-12

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — With their 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts having an off-night, No. 8 UCLA turned to a couple of smaller dynamos.

Kiki Rice had 20 points and nine rebounds and Charisma Osborne added 14 in a 53-45 win over 13th-ranked Colorado 53-45 on Monday night that moved the Bruins into a three-way tie for second in the Pac-12.

UCLA notched its nation-best seventh win over a Top 25 team this season.

“That's what I believe we're capable of,” coach Cori Close said. “I'm really proud of how we're finding different ways to win.”

Newly returned to the top 10 in the AP rankings, the Bruins (22-5, 11-5) blew a 12-point, first-half lead before recovering in the third behind their two guards.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going into this final week of Pac-12,” Osborne said. “It's the first time we’ve won three in a row in a long time.”

Scoreless in the first half, Quay Miller ignited a 13-2 run for the Buffaloes to open the third, capped by Tameiya Sadler’s steal and basket for a 32-31 lead, their first of the game. The Bruins committed seven turnovers in seven minutes.

Londynn Jones came in and scored five in a row, Rice made two free throws and Osborne scored to send UCLA into the fourth leading 40-35.

“Tough games, especially tight ones down the stretch, you start to realize every possession matters,” Rice said.

Betts, whose field-goal percentage leads Division I, was scoreless until the fourth, when her basket extended UCLA's lead to 44-35. Her two points tied a season low, well off her team-leading 15.5 average, but she came up with a big steal with 30 seconds to go.

“You have to be able to make other kinds of winning plays,” Close said.

The Buffs closed to 46-43 on five straight points by Aaronette Vonleh.

Both teams then went cold, combining to go 0 for 20 during a nearly 10-minute stretch that finally ended with Osborne's 3-pointer, keeping UCLA ahead 49-43.

“I just saw no one guarding me and that’s a shot that I practice all the time,” Osborne said.

Rice stole the ball and scored with 17 seconds remaining to seal the win despite 24 turnovers by the Bruins.

“It was terrible,” Close said. “Bottom line is we've got to reverse those numbers.”

Jaylyn Sherrod had 10 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the closing seconds for the Buffs (20-7, 10-6). Miller and Frida Formann had nine points each.

The Bruins outscored the Buffs 17-7 in the first quarter with Colorado missing 11 of 13 shots from the floor.

Colorado scored the first eight points of the second to close within two. But the Bruins answered with 12 straight points by Osborne and Rice to lead 29-19 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado: Two weeks ago, the Buffs were projected as one of four top seeds in the NCAA Tournament by the selection committee. Now, they’ve dropped four in a row and fallen into a two-way tie for third in the league.

UCLA: The Bruins are expected to host early round games in the NCAA Tournament, so their six seniors will be back at Pauley Pavilion before season's end.

UP NEXT

Colorado: Hosts Washington on Thursday.

UCLA: Visits Arizona State on Thursday to open its final regular-season road trip.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball