Women’s basketball achieves 84-79 overtime victory after back-and-forth battle with Cal

Sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere delivered a game-tying layup with 17 seconds left to force overtime for UCLA women's basketball. Onyenwere shot 12-of-22 from the field and finished with 29 points and eight rebounds in the Bruins overtime victory over Cal. (Emily Ng/Daily Bruin)

This post was updated Jan. 5 at 3:17 p.m.

BERKELEY — The Bruins are the top offensive rebounding team in the Pac-12 – and it got them the win.

After a missed second free throw by redshirt senior forward Lajahna Drummer, sophomore forward Michaela Onyenwere kept UCLA women’s basketball (9-5, 2-0) alive with an out-of-area offensive rebound for the putback to tie the game at 71 with 17 seconds left in regulation.

“We wouldn’t have won the game without that offensive rebound,” said coach Cori Close. “That (rebound) wasn’t one that was near her, it was one she had to go fight for. … If we miss that free throw, we would’ve had to foul and put them on the free throw line and then try to extend the game.”

The Bruins went on to secure an 84-79 overtime win, handing No. 18 California (9-3, 0-1) its third consecutive loss on Friday night.

Onyenwere led UCLA in scoring with 29 points, marking her 10th game this season scoring in double digits. The forward went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, draining three 3s for a second consecutive game after going 0-of-5 in the Bruins’ first 12 games.

“My teammates trust me and my coaches trust me,” Onyenwere said. “So that gives me the confidence to shoot the shots that I have been practicing for a really long time, and shoot the shots that I do in practice every day.”

The contest was back-and-forth to start, with 10 lead changes in the first quarter alone. But the Bruins pulled away in the second quarter, forcing California to eight turnovers and outscoring it 25-16. UCLA entered the second half with a 42-32 lead.

But with six of the last eight meetings between these two teams determined by eight points or fewer, California wasn’t going away.

The Bears took over in the third quarter, outscoring the Bruins 23-11. UCLA could not find the basket for the final two minutes and 53 seconds and watched their 10-point lead disappear entirely. The Bruins exited the third trailing 55-53.

“We were down significantly in the rebounding margin in that particular quarter and we weren’t making our shots,” Close said. “Their zone sort of made us slow down a bit, and we weren’t able to play at the tempo that we would like to play.”

California forward Kristine Anigwe and guard Asha Thomas both played a large role in the Bears’ comeback, logging 18 and 13 points, respectively, in the second half. UCLA eventually evened out the rebounding battle in the fourth quarter, out-rebounding California 12-8 to force overtime.

UCLA held the lead throughout overtime – but not without a fight from the Bears. A 3 by Thomas cut the Bruins’ lead to one to make the game 80-79 with just 21 seconds left.

But UCLA sealed the victory with free throws.

“We put (senior guard) Kennedy Burke on Asha Thomas. She’s not only 6-foot-2, but she has a 6-foot-5 wingspan,” Close said. “So we told her to just really lock up on Asha Thomas. We were going to double up and try to face guard (Thomas) and then double up on Anigwe.”

Burke said the Bruins’ defensive play was important to the team’s overtime performance.

“I think it started on defense,” Burke said. “Michaela, Laj (Drummer) – they were just really big dogs today. Without them, it wouldn’t be the same.”

Burke recorded 19 points on the game, including two free throws that cut UCLA’s deficit to one with under two minutes in regulation.

The Bruins will remain on the road and will face No. 6 Stanford (11-1, 1-0) on Sunday. The Cardinal defeated USC 72-64 on Friday.

“Stanford is obviously a really good team this year, and they are playing at a really high level,” Close said. “But we have to come in really focused and ready to be counted on to do our jobs and to be great teammates to each other, and play to our strengths.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2019/01/05/womens-basketball-achieves-84-79-overtime-victory-after-back-and-forth-battle-with-cal/
Copyright 2019