LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a rough stretch in late December, UCLA’s Charisma Osborne has emerged as one of the top players in the Pac-12 Conference.
The sophomore guard had her fifth straight game with 20 or more points, scoring a game-high 27 points for the fifth-ranked Bruins, who survived a second-half rally by Arizona State for a 60-57 victory on Friday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Osborne’s night gave her the scoring lead in the Pac-12 at 19.3 points per game. She is averaging 24.6 points over her last five games.
“I talked to Coach Cori (Close) after the Stanford game and told her how upset I was offensively and defensively,” said Osborne, who has six 20-point games this season. “She was able to get me back thinking better mentally and to be more aggressive.”
Osborne got the Bruins (10-2, 8-2 Pac-12) back on track in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 40-all going into the final 10 minutes after UCLA led by 18 points in the second quarter and 33-21 at halftime before Arizona State roared back.
Osborne scored 13 points in the final quarter, including a 3-pointer with 7:39 remaining to give UCLA a 46-44 advantage. The Bruins were up by six a couple times over the final six minutes, but were never able to shake the Sun Devils (8-5, 4-5).
Emily Bessoir hit a free throw that gave UCLA a 60-57 lead with 15 seconds remaining. Arizona State had a chance to send it into overtime, but Taya Hanson missed a 3-pointer.
Close, who has said that Osborne would be one of the best guards in the nation since she arrived on campus, said that Osborne’s leadership and mental toughness has emerged over the past month.
“We showed her those games where she was more tentative. She then did the work and made a few tweaks,” Close said.
Bessoir added 12 points for the Bruins, who won their fifth straight game despite shooting 32.1% from the field and 19 of 28 from the line.
Hanson was Arizona State’s leading scorer with 12 points.
RALLY FALLS SHORT
Arizona State made its first two shots from the field and scored the first four points before going cold, allowing UCLA to take control. The Sun Devils committed 13 turnovers over their next 17 possessions and didn’t make a field goal for over 10 minutes. UCLA had seven steals over the first 14 minutes.
The Bruins led 26-8 in the second quarter before Gabriela Bosquez ended Arizona State’s shooting drought with a 3-pointer.
The Sun Devils battled back in the third with 13 straight points during a 17-2 run in the third. Hanson’s jumper with 1:59 remaining in the period put Arizona State up 40-38 before a layup by UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere tied it at 40-all going into the final 10 minutes.
“We’ve been struggling to start strong for the whole season and we know this about ourselves,” Hanson said. “Coach (Charli Turner Thorne) said at halftime to rebound and take care of the ball. We flipped things around in that sense.”
BIG ASSIST ON OFF NIGHT
Preseason All-American forward Michaela Onyenwere scored a season-low seven points and didn’t score in double figures for the first time in 17 games. But the senior had a big assist in the final minute, finding Bessoir for a wide open 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining to put the Bruins up 59-54.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have lost their last 11 games against the Bruins, but the last two games have been by four and three points respectively.
UCLA: Close was not happy with her team’s mental breakdowns during the second half, and said she thought they took a step back, which is a concern with four straight road games coming up
Arizona State: Remain in Los Angeles to face Southern California on Sunday.
UCLA: Travel to Washington State next Friday. The Bruins game against No. 10 Arizona, which was scheduled for Sunday, was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Wildcats.
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