UCLA holds off Oklahoma to advance to Sweet 16 of NCAA women's basketball tournament
LOS ANGELES — Charisma Osborne has taken a lot on her shoulders during her four years at UCLA. With her team down four points late in the third quarter after blowing an 18-point deficit, the senior guard wasn't about to let a trip to the Sweet 16 go away.
Osborne's three-point play was the catalyst in a rally that propelled the fourth-seeded Bruins to an 82-73 victory over No. 5 seed Oklahoma 82-73 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.
Osborne scored a career-high 36 points in her final game at Pauley Pavilion, including 13 points in the final 10 minutes as the Bruins (26-7) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019.
“I felt like the light came back in their eyes after that play,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. "When they came back to that huddle in between the third and the fourth quarter, I just thought it blew wind into their sails. I thought it really pushed ’em over the hump mentally and emotionally."
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The Bruins, who had an 18-point lead in the second quarter, found themselves trailing 54-50 late in the third quarter before Osborne started the comeback. She drove the lane and hit a layup while being fouled by Beatrice Culliton. Osborne made the ensuing free throw to bring them within one.
“Honestly, I was just thinking attack, attack, attack because I was getting to my pullup and they weren’t really going in a little bit in the third quarter, so I was just thinking how can I get to the basket,” said Osborne, who was 11 of 21 from the field and made all 12 of her free throws. She also had eight rebounds and four assists.
UCLA regained control in the fourth quarter by going on a 6-1 run. Oklahoma was within four with 3:31 remaining before the Bruins scored six straight points to put it away.
Kiki Rice added 14 points for the Bruins, who will face top-ranked South Carolina on Saturday in a Greenville Regional semifinal. UCLA hung tough with the Gamecocks earlier in the season before losing 73-64.
"It was incredible to see the energy and intensity that she brought to our entire team throughout the entire game," Rice said of Osborne. “She really carried us and I just had so much fun watching her go off.”
Madi Williams scored 24 points and Ana Llanusa 15 for the Sooners, who end their season 26-7.
Oklahoma will lose the three five-year seniors, but there are no fears or complaints from OU coach Jennie Baranczyk.
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“I fell in love with the team and the players when I first met them,” Baranczyk said. “One thing I love is that the seniors have worked to help the underclasswomen.”
The Sooners trailed by 13 at the half and 47-32 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter before they went on a 22-3 run over a six-minute span to go up 54-50 with 35 seconds remaining.
Llanusa had eight points during Oklahoma's rally, including a jumper with 1:40 remaining that put the Sooners up 50-49 and their first lead since early in the first quarter. The run included 14 straight points as the Bruins were held scoreless for nearly four minutes.
“I feel like we were able to get to the rim and we just didn’t respond when we didn’t make them,” Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk said. "I thought they were hot from 3 as well, and so we needed to guard a little bit better."
Oklahoma jumped out to an early 5-2 lead before UCLA scored eight straight points. It remained a five-point game for much of the first quarter before the Bruins opened things up with 13 straight points late in the first and early in the second. Osborne keyed that run with seven points.
UCLA held the Sooners without a bucket for 4:57 until Williams made a layup on a fast break to get Oklahoma to 32-16.
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Taylor Robertson's 78-game streak of making a 3-pointer ended in her final collegiate game. The senior was held two points and was 0 for 3 from beyond the arc in 19 minutes.
The last time Robertson was blanked from the perimeter was Feb. 9, 2021, against Iowa State. She will leave Oklahoma as the NCAA women's leader in 3-pointers with 537.
Oklahoma: With the Sooners loss, this is the first time the Big 12 has not had a team advance to the Sweet 16. The conference had six teams make the field with Texas, Baylor and the Sooners all losing on Monday.
UCLA: This is the fifth time in Close's 12 seasons she has led the Bruins to the Sweet 16.
UCLA is one of only four opponents to not lose to South Carolina by double digits this season. It was tied at the beginning of the fourth quarter on Nov. 29 before the Gamecocks won.
“We weren’t able to finish the job in the fourth quarter the first time, so to get another shot at them when we feel like we’ve gotten so much better is a great opportunity for us,” Rice said. "We’re not scared that they’re like the No. 1 seed. We have no doubt in us and we’re just excited to go down there and play our game."
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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: UCLA holds off OU rally to advance to Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament