UCLA guard Kiki Rice (1) shoots over Creighton forward Mallory Brake (14) during the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the women’s NCAA Tournament Monday, March 25, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The UCLA women’s team managed to survive the second round of the NCAA Tournament, defeating seventh-seeded Creighton 67-63. The Bruins overcame a 10-point deficit to win Monday night. UCLA sophomore guard Kiki Rice and sophomore transfer student Lauren Betts were key to the success against a well-matched Creighton team. Betts transferred in from Stanford University.

Rice showcased another exceptional performance against the Bluejays scoring 24 points and was eight-for-eight from the free throw line. Rice also went seven-for-13 in field goals after playing 38 minutes. Lauren Betts added 20 points and 10 rebounds marking her 12th double-double of the season.

Rice knows how critical each moment is and must make every opportunity count.

“At this point of the season, it’s one game and you’re out,” Rice said. “I just knew that I needed to do whatever I had to do to help my team win, whether that was feeding the ball to Lauren (Betts), scoring, doing whatever, and I think I was just focused on that.” (Espn.com)

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The game consisted of back-and-forth action from both teams scoring critical shots and making necessary stops. Creighton led at the end of quarter one 20-19. The Bluejays started off the second quarter hot going on an 8-0 run. UCLA did not have a response until late in the second quarter.  The Bruins found themselves trailing at halftime 42-34.

At halftime, UCLA regrouped and found a rhythm going into the third quarter. Rice and Betts led the Bruins and allowed them to regain momentum. Although UCLA made the effort to shorten the lead, the score was tied at 56 a piece at the end of three periods.

Creighton guard Molly Mogensen (21) and UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) vie for a loose ball during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the women’s NCAA Tournament Monday, March 25, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The tie did not last for long as UCLA controlled the tempo throughout the fourth quarter. The Bruins led around the five-minute mark. Although UCLA was up, Creighton maneuvered their way back. Senior guard Molly Mogensen hit a three-pointer closing the gap to just two points. UCLA needed a clutch play to keep their championship hopes alive. Senior guard Charisma Osborne followed up and made a tough jump shot on the next possession to end the Bluejays season.

Creighton senior guard Lauren Jenson highlighted the UCLA defense in her post-game press conference.

“Credit to UCLA. They made life difficult for us, especially in the second half. Disrupting our offense, making it hard for us to catch, and even when we did get a shot off it was contested. So they definitely ramped it up on the defensive end,” Jensen said. (Espn.com)

UCLA will next face third-seeded LSU on March 30 at 10:00 A.M. on ABC.