Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Disappointing Loss For UCLA In PAC-12 Championship
By Khari Jones, Jr., Contributing Writer
Published March 8, 2021

UCLA senior forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) scored 30 points during the 2021 Pac-12 Championship (Jared Dubose/T.G.Sportstv1

UCLA took a disappointing, heartbreaking loss in the PAC-12 Championship. Stanford’s hot shooting was too much for the lady Bruins. The Cardinal’s offensive power got going early, and they never looked back. 

Head coach Cori Close was extremely upset with her team after losing 75-55 because she knows they are much better than they performed. Close is more hurt about the lack of competitiveness than the loss.

“I’m much more disappointed because we played below our processing commitment to what we said we were going to do and the lack of urgency, commitment to the game plan, and rebounding. We didn’t do anything in the first half that we said we were going to do,” says Close.

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There’s a lot of pain and regret in UCLA’s locker room, and Close wants to focus on the choices they have to deal with that pain.

Close says Stanford put on a clinic and displayed what it takes to be at a final four level. She said her team opening efforts is one of the worst she’s ever had.

“We’re either going to allow that to teach us and call us to that standard, or it’s going to be a quick out in the tournament. Next time we play with lack of urgency in the first half of an NCAA tournament, I don’t care what round, it’ll be our last. So we better learn from this real quick.”

The belief Close has in her team has not wavered and her love for them has not changed. She wants them to take responsibility. Close says she told her team, “they might not like me for the rest of the year.”

From this point forward, Close wants to hold her team to a standard of excellence she knows they are capable of producing. She notes that they are wonderful human beings but they didn’t come to UCLA just to be a great person, they were recruited to be great competitors as well.

Stanford took advantage of matchups with Natalie Chou and Lindsey Corsaro. Their guards were driving past them the entire game.

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Close mentioned Michaela Onyenwere was the silver lining in this game. She gave it her all and finished with 30 points, even while double teamed Onyenwere found ways to score.

In tears, Close said, “It’s pretty remarkable, Michaela is an elite basketball player, and she’s not even Close to what she’s going to become at the next level, whenever she decides that. She showed out, quite frankly. I take full responsibility. I’m the head coach.”

Stanford senior guard Kiana Williams scored 26 points in the 2021 Pac-12 championship game (Jared Dubose/T.G.Sportstv1)

Coach Close said time is running out, and there is more they can accomplish. She states it’s on her to figure out the challenges so they can improve.

In her last few games as a UCLA Bruin, Onyenwere said, “We are going to move on to the tournament and be better.” She notes when they are knocked, they won’t be knocked for too long. They are going to take 100% ownership of the loss and look at the film.

“We have a lot of basketball left to play. I’m super grateful to have players on the team that are fighters and warriors.”

UCLA has two weeks to rest before the NCAA tournament kicks off. Onyenwere says, “The time off will be good for us to get a mental break a little bit. To get things for the NCAA tournament.” Nonetheless, she says they would like to get back on the court as soon as possible.

Although Close mentioned her superstar needed help and she was let down, Onyenwere says it’s about how they can better as a collective; it’s not about what she did individually.

Onyenwere finished the game with 30 points.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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