Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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UCLA defeats USC in the second round, the Bruins now face Stanford in the semifinals.
By Khari Jones Jr., Contributing Writer
Published March 7, 2020

USC forward Kayla Overbeck (1) defends UCLA guard Japreece Dean during the Pac-12 Women’s basketball quarterfinals (Omer Khan/T.G.sportstv1)

The UCLA Bruins started slowly against USC in a highly anticipated matchup. They defeated the Women of Troy 73-66 in a very emotional game. Lindsay Corsaro and Michaela Onyenwere led the Bruins to a victory with their selflessness, poise, and leadership. Without those attributes they bring to the team, UCLA might have lost in the second round against USC. 

USC played their hearts out and left everything on the floor, but they came up short. They are a young team with a promising future, led by their freshman talent Endiya Rogers and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Alissa Pili. 

UCLA Head Coach Cori Close spoke on the talented USC team. “I want to, first of all, give a lot of credit to USC. The way that the young team has come along has been remarkable. To see their improvement and their composure today, I give a lot of credit to them. Mark Trakh is doing an excellent job. I have been impressed with their improvement and poise, especially with their youth.” Close has a great deal of respect for the Women of Troy.

UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) scored 26 points against USC (Omer Khan/T.G.Sportstv1)

Close spoke on how important it is for her point guard Corsaro to display her leadership skills in times of adversity. Close says, “There is a reason Lindsey led us in minutes played last year. She has come along for us, her IQ is great, and she plays any position when we need her. Statistics don’t show what she brings to the table, and she influences the team. She was the emotional leader in every huddle.” 

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When you have that type player on your team, it is challenging to be counted out of a game. Onyenwere was a massive problem for USC. She had the Bruins first ten points and had a great game rebounding. She finished with 26 points and 15 rebs. Onyenwere shared her thoughts; she stated, “We continue to fight. So being aggressive for my team and doing whatever I can to help us win is my mindset.”

The role players for the Bruins stepped up big time when needed. It’s vital to have that spark off the bench, and have players that will be ready when it is their time to make an impact on the game. There were stretches throughout the game where they couldn’t score, and the bench stepped up. Close also said, “You know, you have to stay ready. You don’t know when your time is going to come and how the team will need you. You have to stay selfless and stay ready no matter what has led up to that.” 

USC guard Endyia Rogers led the Women of Troy with 18 points (Omer Khan/T.G.Sportstv1)

Natalie Chou saved the Bruins in a desperate time when they were struggling. In 16 minutes she went 5-5 from the field, with two huge three-point baskets. Close mentioned without Chou they would have not won the game. “We’re not in that position without Natalie Chou’s spark. And then also not that position if she doesn’t have the selfless to that we turned what we needed and how we were attacking, and so I went with a different lineup. She was a selfless enough teammate to be fine with that”

Onyenwere and the Bruin’s overall goal is to win the Pac-12 Championship. She said, “We want to win the Pac-12 Championship. That’s what we came here to do. We’ve proven ourselves. We got the number two seed, even though we haven’t been playing our best. We have a lot more in store for this team. We have a lot more potential.” 

Stay tuned to witness the Bruins chase their Pac-12 Championship aspirations. They have a great chance. UCLA has a tough matchup against the number three seed Stanford tonight at 8:30 PM PT on the Pac-12 Network

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Categories: Basketball | Daily Briefs | Sports
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