The UCLA basketball women’s team got two very important wins in a road sweep of the Arizona schools over the weekend which has put them back in the Pac-12 race.
Has your heart stopped racing yet? My erratic pace subsided about 10 minutes ago. And why is that? Because it was a wild and fulfilling weekend for the UCLA basketball women’s team who had two nail-biting wins over the weekend and has injected new life into the program.
It has been an up and down season for the UCLA Bruins (11-9, 4-4, 6th in the Pac-12), but they manage to keep on battling. After a loss to USC at home last weekend, Cori Close’s squad was 2-4 in conference and heading into a tough road trip to the desert.
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It was a surprise that UCLA came away with the sweep, but not as surprising as how they accomplished this feat as it seems Close is starting her own Fight, Fight, Fight Club.
On Friday night, the Bruins were in a tight battle from buzzer to buzzer against the Arizona State Sun Devils. There were several lead changes throughout the game and neither team had an advantage of more than six points. The intense fervor culminated with Japreece Dean hitting a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to secure the 61-59 win. The excitement didn’t stop there.
On Sunday, the Bruins upped the ante when they took the Arizona Wildcats to three overtimes. Along the way, the Bruins had several players collect a lot of stats to get this exhausting win.
This was not only the second triple overtime game in Pac-12 history but the first in UCLA women’s basketball history.
Both Michaela Onyenwere (28 pts, 13 rebs) and Lajahna Drummer (16 pts, 17 rebs) collected double-doubles in the marathon victory. Onyenwere not only tied the game in regulation and the first overtime to keep the Bruins alive, but she also had her sixth 25+ point game of the season.
Japreece Dean nearly had one of her own as she scored 26 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Kennedy Burke added to the offense with 16 points of her own.
It was close for the majority of the game, but UCLA was finally able to pull away midway through the 3rd OT. Late free throws by Onyenwere and Drummer had pushed the lead to five as the Bruins captured the 98-93 win.
As exciting as it was, I hope they don’t have similar games in the future. The heart attacks are not fun. Still, they did show that they are not going to be pushed around. Close is keeping them focused and fighting to the end of every game. That will help them navigate through such a tough Pac-12.