March Madness: UCLA Defeats Sacramento State, Plays Oklahoma

Charisma Osborne was not yet ready to say goodbye to the Pauley Pavilion.

Senior security guard University of California at Los Angeles To 67-45 rout over No. 13 Sacramento State in the first round NCAA tournament Saturday to earn no. 4 The Bruins got their last chance to play in front of their fans this season.

UCLA will face No. 5th in Oklahoma on Monday at 7:00 pm PT for a spot in the Sweet 16 after the Sooners defeated No. 16. 12 Portland 85-63 on Saturday.

Osbourne has shown all-around prowess that could make her one of the top picks in the WNBA draft this season with 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Forward Emily Bessoir scored 14 points and eight rebounds while a rookie Kiki Rice scored 15 points, including 10 points in the first quarter, which tied Sacramento State’s total in the first frame.

“Charisma, she’s probably one of the people who puts the most pressure on herself and I think she’s been the most consistent,” coach Corey Close said, noting Osbourne’s loss of zero and the team’s lead of plus 22. “She’s been making winning plays.” “.

UCLA (26-9) is now 7-0 in first round games in the NCAA Tournament under the leadership of Close. Monday’s win will send UCLA to the Sweet 16’s fifth of Close’s 12-year tenure and a first for her current players.

The lack of postseason experience is mostly a result of the pandemic, which canceled the 2020 NCAA Tournament for Osbourne and Camryn Brown, who were newcomers to a team that had been in the top 11 all season. The following year, the Bruins were eliminated in the second round of the bubble tournament in the San Antonio area due to COVID-19 protocols.

Reflecting on her unique post-season experience ahead of the game, Osbourne enthused about the opportunity to host a “regular” tournament this year. It was what she came to UCLA for, and on Saturday she lived up to the long wait.

Osbourne flirted with her halftime rebounding career, playing nine boards with six points and four assists, and the Bruins had a 17-point lead by halftime. She recorded a few blocks for just the second time this season and, defensively, was one of the main defensive players for Sacramento State star Kahlaija Dean.

The Big Sky MVP, who averaged 21.1 points per game, held up to 11 points on three-of-19 shooting. The Oakland transfer brought six rebounds and five assists as center Isnell Natabu led Sacramento State with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“We always talk about defense being our anchor and I think everyone has taken that to heart,” Osborne said. “If we were going to win and win by a wide margin, we needed to play defense and that will be the key to every game going forward.”

Rice’s hot start helped the Bruins through the first quarter, which included a 14-0 streak to close questions about how the team would react to the two-week break after losing in the Pac-12 tournament final. Not only was the break between tournaments keeping the Bruins out of the way, they also had to wait for clues on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. PT. It was the final game of the first round of the tournament.

Rice, who has hit double figures in seven of her last eight games, said she spent Saturday morning watching the men’s and women’s tournaments play. By the time the Bruins were finally able to hit the court, she was just thrilled to join the post-season party.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Osbourne said, glancing at Rice, who was seated to her left. “You were?”

The freshman shook her head.