(News4usonline) – No. 4 UCLA plays No. 5 Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. But first things first. The Bruins were able to secure the showdown with the Sooners after upending Sacramento State in the first round at Pauley Pavilion.
The first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament national kicked off with the UCLA Bruins being victorious at the Pauley Pavilion. The No. 4 seeded Bruins took on visiting Sacramento State University in a game that was decided in the first quarter.
To start off this game, UCLA scored the first points off of a second chance bucket that Sacramento State would answer with two points of their own. The Bruins then went on a 14-0 run to put the game into blowout mode early.
UCLA blitzed Sacramento State with a full-court press and dominated the glass to take control of the game early. As a result of their aggressive defensive play, the Bruins staked themselves out to a 23-10 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.
UCLA took that first advantage and rolled to an eventual 67-45 win. The Bruins’ impressive 22-point victory was spearheaded by senior Charisma Osborne who secured a double-double with 11 points, and 12 rebounds and also facilitated 5 assists.
Sophomore Emily Bessoir added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Bruins. Kiki Rice led UCLA with a team-high 15 points. UCLA outrebounded Sacramento State, 47-32, to maintain an edge on the boards.
UCLA’s bench players contributed 19 points in the team’s victory and that impressed head coach Cori Close.
“Our bench is always ready in this tournament,” Close said after the game. “You never know when someone from the bench can have a huge impact on the game.”
UCLA’s rebounding edge was critical as the Bruins were able to build a 34-24 advantage over Sacramento State in scoring in the paint. All 10 players for UCLA got in on the game action during the Bruins’ runaway game.
Sacramento State’s efforts were led by Isnelle Natabou, who generated her own double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kahlaijah Dean added 11 points and five assists for Sacramento State. UCLA did not allow Sacramento State to score any fastbreak points and limited them to only scoring six second-chance points.
The Bruins now play the University of Oklahoma, which has the “second highest scoring offense” in the NCAA. The Sooners had a comfortable victory over the University of Portland Pilots, recording an 85-63 win.
When asked how she would gameplan for the Sooners, Close had this to say:
“Completely different,” Close said. “Sac[ramento] State was one of the slowest-paced teams. Oklahoma is one of the most fast-paced teams… absolute different gameplan.”
Lead photo caption: Emily Bessoir (11) goes up for two of her 14 points against Sacramento State in a first-round NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game played at Pauley Pavilion on March 18, 2023. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline