May 23, 2022

UCLA women’s basketball dominates USC to begin 2-game set

View Original Notice ? UCLA women’s basketball dominates USC to begin 2-game set

LOS ANGELES — Armed with a new head coach and a new outlook to match, the USC women’s basketball team intended to keep pace with UCLA on Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion.

The Trojans will have to try again Sunday.

UCLA never trailed in the opener of their two-game Pac-12 series, capitalizing on a steady stream of USC mistakes to roll to a 66-43 victory.

Despite their own depleted roster, the Bruins (8-4 overall, 3-1 Pac-12) turned the Trojans’ 27 turnovers into 21 points, opening a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter and extending the margin in every quarter.

“We’ve talked a lot about ‘seven’s all we got, but seven’s all we need,’” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “There was a look in their eye today that that wasn’t lip service anymore. They weren’t trying to convince themselves. They really believed it.”

UCLA played without Jaelynn Penn, who was inactive due to a hand injury, leaving guard Chantel Horvat and forward Izzy Anstey (who fouled out) as the only reserves available. Despite their shrinking bench, the Bruins rang up their fourth consecutive victory over the Trojans.

Ilmar’l Thomas scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the first half and finished the night 9 for 14 from the field to go with seven rebounds.

“I was just thinking about how we were going to get a win and being able to execute our scouting report,” Thomas said.

Charisma Osborne had 11 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals for UCLA. Natalie Chou had 10 points and five steals and redshirt freshman Dominique Onu added nine points in 28 minutes, well above her season average.

Onu enrolled early at UCLA last season in what would have been her senior season of high school in her home state of New Jersey.

“She’s shown a tremendous amount of resiliency,” Close said. “I really think she wouldn’t be in a position to be ready when this opportunity came today if she hadn’t made those hard choices to be resilient in those moments when it wasn’t very comfortable.”

Jordyn Jenkins had a double-double to pace USC (9-6, 2-3), scoring 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Trojans actually outrebounded the Bruins 46-32, but they shot 27.6% from the field (16 for 58), including a 2-for-17 showing from 3-point range and managed just five assists. A number of USC possessions didn’t even result in a shot attempt thanks to the turnovers (15 before halftime).

Things got truly ugly in the fourth quarter. Trailing by 17 points heading into the final period, USC shot 2 for 16 to cap its frustrating night.

“We got our ass kicked,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “So we don’t feel good in our locker room. I don’t think that’s who we are or who we want to be. And yet, as kind of bad as we feel or as sort of embarrassed as I am, I’m also excited, you know, to play this team again in a couple of days.”

Close was already warning her team not to get overconfident with the rematch looming Sunday night at the Galen Center.

“I told them, you can have today and then by the time I see you tomorrow, this never happened,” Close said. “And we’re moving on to the next one.”

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