March Madness: UCLA defeats Sacramento State, will play Oklahoma

Charisma Osborne wasn’t able to say goodbye to Pauley Pavilion simply but.

The senior guard led UCLA to a 67-45 rout over No. 13 Sacramento State within the first spherical of the NCAA match Saturday to earn the No. 4 Bruins a closing probability to play in entrance of their residence crowd this season.

UCLA will face No. 5 seed Oklahoma on Monday at 7 p.m. PDT for a spot within the Sweet 16 after the Sooners defeated No. 12 Portland 85-63 on Saturday.

Osborne flashed the all-around ability that would make her a excessive WNBA draft decide this season with 11 factors, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and two blocks. Forward Emily Bessoir had 14 factors and eight rebounds whereas freshman Kiki Rice had a team-high 15 factors, together with 10 factors within the first quarter that equaled Sacramento State’s complete rating within the first body.

“Charisma, she’s probably one of the ones that puts the most pressure on herself and I thought she was the most consistent,” coach Cori Close mentioned, noting Osborne’s zero turnovers and team-leading plus-22. “She made winning plays.”

UCLA (26-9) is now 7-0 in first-round NCAA match video games beneath Close. A win Monday would ship UCLA to its fifth Sweet 16 of Close’s 12-year tenure and the primary for her present gamers.

The lack of postseason expertise is principally the results of the pandemic, which canceled the 2020 NCAA match for Osborne and Camryn Brown, who had been freshmen on a workforce that was ranked within the prime 11 all season. The following yr, the Bruins had been eradicated within the second spherical of the bubble match within the San Antonio space due to COVID-19 protocols.

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Reflecting on her distinctive postseason expertise main as much as the sport, Osborne marveled on the alternative to have a “regular” match this yr. It was what she got here to UCLA to attain, and on Saturday, she made the lengthy wait value it.

Osborne was flirting along with her profession excessive in rebounds by halftime, flattening 9 boards with six factors and 4 assists because the Bruins took a 17-point lead on the break. She recorded a number of blocks for simply the second time this season and, defensively, served as one of many major gamers guarding Sacramento State star Kahlaijah Dean.

The Big Sky MVP, who was averaging 21.1 factors per recreation, was held to 11 factors on three-of-19 taking pictures. The switch from Oakland notched six rebounds and 5 assists as middle Isnelle Natabou led Sacramento State with 16 factors and 10 rebounds.

“We always talk about defense being our anchor and I think everyone took that to heart,” Osborne mentioned. “If we were going to win and win by a lot, we needed to play defense and that’s going to be a key to every game moving forward.”

Rice’s scorching begin paced the Bruins by way of a primary quarter that included a 14-0 run to close down questions on how the workforce would react to a two-week layoff after dropping within the Pac-12 match closing. It wasn’t simply the break between tournaments that saved the Bruins sidelined, however additionally they needed to watch for Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. PDT tip. It was the ultimate first-round recreation of the match.

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Rice, who has scored in double digits in seven of her final eight video games, mentioned she spent Saturday morning watching video games within the males’s and ladies’s tournaments. By the time the Bruins might lastly take the court docket, she was simply excited to affix the postseason social gathering.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Osborne mentioned, glancing over to Rice, who was sitting to her left. “Were you?”

The freshman shook her head.