Short-handed UCLA women’s basketball rumbles past sloppy USC

Short-handed UCLA women’s basketball rumbles past sloppy USC

Exactly half of UCLA’s huddle was dressed in uniform to play. The other half settled for sweatpants and gray T-shirts. But they all wore a matching smile by the end of the night.

Even with as many players injured as available, short-handed UCLA cruised to a dominant 66-43 victory over rival USC on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion to win its fourth consecutive game in the series.

“Seven’s all we got, but seven’s all we need,” Bruins coach Cori Close said. “I thought there was a look in their eye today that wasn’t lip service anymore. They weren’t trying to convince themselves, they really believed it.”

UCLA (8-4, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) won its third straight game overall entering Sunday’s 6 p.m. rematch at Galen Center in the second game that was rescheduled because of COVID-19 outbreaks on both teams. For the Trojans, who shot 27.6% from the field and turned the ball over 27 times, a chance at redemption can’t come soon enough.

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“We got our ass kicked,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “I don’t think that’s who we are or who we want to be. … But as bad as I feel and as embarrassed as I am, I’m excited to play this team again.”

UCLA’s aggressive defense flustered the Trojans (9-6, 2-3 Pac-12) into eight first-quarter turnovers, knocking them off kilter.

A 7-0 UCLA run in the first quarter that broke a 9-9 tie left the Trojans scrambling for the rest of the game.

UCLA’s IImar’I Thomas led the Bruins with 20 points and seven rebounds on nine-for-14 shooting while guard Charisma Osborne had nine points and seven assists.

One day after losing guard Jaelynn Penn to a hand injury, which increased UCLA’s group of injured players to seven on Thursday, freshman Dominque Onu made her second start of the year and scored nine points.

Osborne played 39 minutes, staying on the court deep into the blowout victory because UCLA had no one else to substitute. The Bruins have three of the Pac-12’s top six players in minutes per game with Osborne, Natalie Chou and Thomas.

“At the end of the day, I don’t care how many we got out there,” Thomas said. I want to go out there and win.”

Jordyn Jenkins was USC’s only double-digit scorer with 17 points and 11 rebounds as USC won the rebounding battle 46-32.

Before Penn’s injury, the Bruins were already without guard Gina Conti (foot) and forwards Angela Dugalić and Emily Bessoir, who both suffered preseason knee injuries. They were probable starters. Guard Camryn Brown and Kiara Jefferson and forward Brynn Masikewich were also sidelined Thursday.

The Trojans were without second-leading scorer Jordan Sanders, who suffered an injury against Colorado and has missed four games.

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