With the fourth quarter about to tip off, the Bruins were down and out, well behind the Trojans on the scoreboard.
Their shots weren’t falling, turnovers were costing them possessions and the blue-out crowd was on the verge of watching their team’s nine-game home winning streak come to an end.
The Bruins’ fortunes changed down the stretch, though, and they managed to come from behind for a tight win.
No. 12 UCLA women’s basketball (14-2, 3-1 Pac-12) bested USC (11-4, 1-3) by a score of 61-60 on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion, completing the season sweep of their crosstown rival in the process. The Bruins trailed by as many as 12 points, and none of their starters broke into double figures, but they picked up some major contributions from a couple of young studs that helped them pull it out in the final frame.
Freshman guard Londynn Jones dropped 22 points off the bench going 6-for-11 from the field, 2-for-5 from deep and 8-for-9 from the free throw line. Redshirt sophomore forward Emily Bessoir came through with 11 points on three 3-pointers of her own in 30 minutes – her most action in over a month.
Even with Jones and Bessoir’s efficient outings, UCLA only shot 30.6% from the field on the day, compared to USC’s 40.9% mark. The Trojans also attempted and made more free throws, which is how they got ahead by so much in the third quarter.
UCLA and USC were essentially neck-and-neck for the entire first half, with neither side going ahead by more than four points in that span. The Trojans went on a 9-0 run soon after the break, however, and they finished the frame on an 18-8 run.
The Bruins shot just 3-for-20 in the third, failing to hit any of their 3-point attempts. In a cold streak that bled into the fourth, UCLA missed 12 shots in a row.
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Bessoir and Jones combined to hit three shots in a row across less than two minutes, and all of a sudden, the Bruins were only down by two points fresh off a 10-0 run. After the Trojans hit a field goal that apparently stopped the bleeding, Bessoir eventually answered with a 3-pointer.
Guard Charisma Osborne hit a jumper with 3:31 left that gave UCLA a one-point lead, and they never trailed for the rest of the contest.
It remained close down the stretch, though, since that was the Bruins’ final field goal of the day. Luckily for them, the Trojans didn’t fare much better, missing six shots in a row and turning the ball over twice in the final six minutes. USC managed to make one field goal before the buzzer – a second-chance layup following up what would have been the game-tying 3-pointer with one second left.
UCLA closed things out at the free throw line, with their final six points coming from the charity stripe.
Jones’ free throw with 21 seconds left proved to be the difference, helping her set a new career high in points for the second game in a row.
The Bruins won the battle on the boards 40-29, and their bench outscored the Trojans’ 42-4. Despite only leading for 8:18 – compared to USC’s 26:43 – UCLA did just enough to come away with their eighth-straight win against their rivals.
UCLA will return to the court for a matchup against Stanford on Jan. 13 back at Pauley Pavilion. That game will tip off at 8 p.m. and it will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
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M.A. Voepel, ESPN.comJun 2, 2023, 11:31 PM ETCloseM.A. Voepel covers the WNBA, women's college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began cove