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Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament: Oregon State stuns USC; UCLA survives in OT

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USC guard Rayah Marshall defends against Oregon State.
Oregon State forward Raegan Beers looks to shoot against USC guard Rayah Marshall during the first half in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s tournament on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

USC couldn’t overcome cold shooting and fell to Oregon State, while UCLA escaped with an overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 basketball tournament.

Oregon State upsets USC

USC guard Okako Adika grabs a rebound against Oregon State
Southern California guard Okako Adika (24) grabs a rebound against Oregon State during the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament Wednesday in Las Vegas.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

Oregon State upset No. 6 seed USC 56-48 in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday in Las Vegas behind 18 points and nine rebounds from Raegan Beers.

The No. 11 seed Beavers (12-18) will play No. 3 seed Colorado in the second round on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. while the Trojans (21-9) wait for their NCAA tournament fate.

USC, which entered the game ranked 30th in the NCAA’s NET ranking, is still expected to make its first postseason appearance since 2014.

“We have to look back at this game and do some soul searching and figure out who we want to be in the tournament,” point guard Destiny Littleton said with tears falling down her cheeks. “I whole-heartedly believe that we do have more basketball to go. I think in particular this game, we were playing too much like individuals too much of the game and it came back to bite us.”

Littleton finished with 12 points and five assists, but shot just three-for-15 from the field and two-for-11 from three-point range as the Trojans struggled on offense the whole night. They shot just 29% from the field, their fourth performance under 30% in their last five games.

“I thought we were playing pretty undisciplined with our shot selection from tip to horn,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.

Forward Kadi Sissoko led the Trojans with 16 points on eight-of-17 shooting. She helped the Trojans close the third quarter on an 11-4 run that led to USC taking an eight-point lead with 7:11 remaining in the fourth quarter.

But Oregon State, led by the 6-foot-2 Beers and 6-9 Jelena Mitrovic, stayed aggressive in the paint and drew fouls to fuel the comeback. The Beavers went 19-for-21 from the free throw line, including Beer’s eight-for-nine effort.

Rayah Marshall inched closer to USC’s single-season block record with two more to bring her total to 91 but fouled out with 1:53 remaining after scoring just four points with 11 rebounds. Lisa Leslie’s 95 blocks in the 1992-93 season ranks first in program history.

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Kayla Williams hits big shot to keep USC alive

Kayla Williams was scoreless through the first three quarters but hit two three pointers in the fourth quarter, including one with 26.9 seconds remaining that kept the Trojans within two points.

Williams has six points on two-of-seven shooting.

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Rayah Marshall fouls out late in fourth quarter

Rayah Marshall has fouled out with 1:53 remaining and USC down 46-45.

The sophomore All-Pac-12 honoree has four points and 11 rebounds.

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Oregon State takes the lead

USC was forced to call a timeout after a turnover led to an Oregon State layup in transition to put the Beavers up 46-43 with 3:14 remaining.

The Beavers are on an 11-0 run while USC has made just one of its last eight field goal attempts.

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USC trying to hold on in fourth quarter

USC pushed its lead to eight, but Oregon State is fighting back, currently down 43-40 with 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans are in another long scoring drought, having gone scoreless in the last two minutes and 18 seconds. Rayah Marshall, who averages 12.9 points per game, is stuck on four, although she has 10 rebounds. The sophomore is the only player in the Pac-12 averaging a double-double.

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USC dials in on defense to safeguard slim lead

Only this USC defense could make a missed free throw look good.

After Rayah Marshall missed a free throw and Oregon State gathered the rebound in the corner, the Trojans trapped the Beavers in the backcourt for a 10-second violation and OSU’s 13th turnover of the night. It’s that kind of defense that has USC clinging to a 37-34 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Trojans found some flow on offense late in the third as Kadi Sissoko and Destiny Littleton connected in transition for quick layups. Sissoko has 14 points on seven-of-11 shooting while Littleton has 12 points and four assists.

USC ended the thrid quarter on an 11-4 run with Sissoko scoring eight of the USC points. Littleton added the other three with a pull-up jumper.

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USC’s offense continues to struggle as OSU takes lead

Oregon State has scored seven unanswered points to take a 28-26 lead with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter.

USC is shooting 26.5% from the field, which, surprisingly is not on pace for the team’s least efficient scoring night of the season. The Trojans previously shot 22.2% in a loss to Stanford on Feb. 17.

Destiny Littleton leads the Trojans with nine points, with four coming from the free throw line.

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Back for the second half

And we’re back for the second half.

At halftime, the Pac-12 mascots staged a basketball game, during which Washington State’s Butch the Cougar scored the only points (a single layup). He also earned my unofficial most valuable mascot (trademark pending) award by drawing a charge on UCLA’s Josie Bruin.

USC opened the second half with two free throws from Destiny Littleton to take a 24-21 lead.

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USC leads at halftime despite nearly six-minute scoring drought

Somehow USC leads 22-21 at halftime after being held scoreless for the final 5:51 of the second quarter.

The Trojans held on to the lead despite turning the ball over four times during the scoring drought. Oregon State is trying to run its offense through forward Raegan Beers, who has seven points and five rebounds.

Kadi Sissoko leads USC with six points. Rayah Marshall sat for half of the second quarter after picking up her second foul and has four points and four rebounds.

USC has 11 turnovers compared to Oregon State’s nine.

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USC extends lead as Rayah Marshall sits with early foul trouble

USC leads 22-17 with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter as its offense is starting to stir, but just barely. The Trojans are four-of-eight in the second quarter. Destiny Littleton has five points in the second quarter, including her first three-point shot of the game.

Rayah Marshall is on the bench with two early fouls. She has four points and four rebounds.

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USC leads after ugly first quarter

We have more turnovers than made shots and USC leads 12-11 after the first quarter.

The Trojans have six turnovers with just four made field goals on 15 attempts. Grad transfer point guard Destiny Littleton is 0-for-three, all from three-point range. Kadi Sissoko is the only USC player with more than one made field goal with two.

The Beavers aren’t doing much better with five turnovers and five-of-12 shooting.

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USC, Oregon State offenses struggling early

After waiting all day for the final game of the night, USC and Oregon are off to a shaky start. The Trojans lead 6-5, but are shooting just 27% from the field and have missed four straight shots.

The Beavers are 33% from the field.

Kadi Sissoko leads USC with four points. Rayah Marshall has four rebounds and two points.

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USC faces Oregon State in Pac-12 tournament first round

Hello again from Las Vegas. This is Thuc Nhi Nguyen back courtside at Michelob ULTRA Arena for the final game of the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. Since UCLA’s win over Arizona State this afternoon, I worked out, ate dinner and fought off the urge to take a nap so I’m ready for the night cap between USC and Oregon State.

USC (21-8, 11-7 Pac-12) is 2-0 against Oregon State (12-17, 4-14) this year, including an overtime victory at Galen Center on Feb. 12. The Trojans already have their most wins in a season since 2013-14, when they went 22-13 and used a run to the Pac-12 tournament title to earn an NCAA tournament berth. It was the last time the Trojans went to the Big Dance.

A big part of USC’s resurgence this year has been its defense. Led by the third-leading blocker in the country Rayah Marshall, the Trojans are allowing just 54.8 points per game. It ranks 16th in the country and first in the Pac-12.

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How regular-season clutch-time struggles helped UCLA survive against ASU

UCLA guard Charisma Osborne handles the as Arizona State guard Isadora Sousa reaches.
UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) handles the as Arizona State guard Isadora Sousa reaches in during the second half in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s tournament Wednesday in Las Vegas.
(David Becker / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — Cori Close didn’t have time to fret about how her team lost a 19-point lead to a team that had one conference win. She couldn’t agonize about the 2-for-16 shooting in the fourth quarter or the eight straight missed three-pointers in the second half.

All the UCLA coach cared about after the No. 5 Bruins survived an overtime scare against Arizona State on Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament was that they, indeed, survived.

“At this time of year, we just found a way to win,” Close said after UCLA’s 81-70 win in overtime. “And we earned another game. That’s all I care about.”

UCLA (23-8) will play No. 4 Arizona (21-8) on Thursday at noon PT at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

The Bruins need a victory against the Wildcats to keep hope alive for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament, which would secure hosting rights for the first two rounds. UCLA was a No. 5 seed in ESPN’s latest Bracketology released on Tuesday.

Early in the conference season, it seemed that UCLA would coast to the postseason home-court advantage. The Bruins rose to as high as No. 8 in the Associated Press rankings. But a string of close losses, capped off with a 71-66 overtime defeat to Arizona in Pauley Pavilion, knocked them back.

It was UCLA’s third consecutive tight loss following a three-point overtime defeat to Colorado on Jan. 27 and a two-point loss to Utah on Jan. 29 in which Pac-12 Player of the Year Alissa Pili hit a game-winning layup in the final second.

When the Bruins found themselves in another nail-biter Wednesday, the lessons from their previous close calls showed up.

“It comes down to the fundamentals of our game, which is rebounding, passion plays and defending,” said Emily Bessoir, who hit two key three-pointers in overtime and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. “Just having those past games as experience, we knew exactly who we were looking for and what we were looking for.”

Freshman Kiki Rice scored the game-tying basket with 1:27 remaining in regulation then sent the game into overtime with key block as time expired against ASU’s Jaddan Simmons, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Tyi Skinner led the Sun Devils (8-20) with 26 points.

Rice, the top point guard prospect in her recruiting class, finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Senior Charisma Osborne, UCLA’s lone All-Pac-12 honoree, scored 16 points with eight in overtime to help the Bruins pull away late.

“I was thinking we’re not losing this game right now,” said Osborne, who also set the critical screens in overtime to free Bessoir for her late three-pointers. “From past games, we have lost close games and I think our team did a good job of being able to execute and know what we were looking for. But really, I was just thinking, OK, how can I help my team and what do they need from me. I feel like actually, I didn’t do as great leading in the fourth quarter and I wanted to reset myself,”

Osborne and Bessoir are the only Bruins who have played in an NCAA tournament victory. Point guard Gina Conti appeared in one NCAA tournament game with Wake Forest, a first-round loss in 2021, which was the Demon Deacons’ first NCAA tournament game since 1988.

With the top-ranked freshman class in the country, Close knows her team has talent for a deep postseason run. But the pressurized moments in Las Vegas are a necessary “dress rehearsal” to ensure her players are mentally ready for higher stakes.

“I’m thinking about how do we teach these kids to know how to win,” Close said. “Age ain’t nothing but a number. ... We don’t have a lot of experience, but so what, we don’t have control over that. But we’ve had a lot of great, pressurized moments against a lot of different styles of play and we’ve just gotta find out game by game how to figure a way to win.”

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UCLA survives overtime scare from Arizona State

And exhale.

UCLA survived No. 12 seed Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday at the Michelob ULTRA Arena, advancing to the quarterfinal round with an 81-70 victory in overtime.

UCLA will play No. 4 seed Arizona on Thursday at noon PT.

The fifth-seeded Bruins (23-8) squandered a 19-point, third-quarter lead by going just two for 16 in the fourth quarter. They rediscovered their offense just in time with two key three-pointers in overtime from Emily Bessoir, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.

The Sun Devils, who went 1-17 in Pac-12 play during their first season under head coach Natasha Adair, ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run and jumped ahead with a three-pointer from Tyi Skinner with 3:15 remaining.

Freshman Kiki Rice tied the score at 62-62 with 1:27 remaining in regulation with a driving layup, then sent the game to overtime with a block on Jaddan Simmons as time expired. She finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Arizona State scored six of its eight points in overtime from the three-point line.

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UCLA rediscovering its offense finally

Emily Bessoir hit another three-pointer and Kiki Rice forced a travel from Arizona State’s Tyi Skinner to put UCLA up 74-68 with 48.7 seconds remaining.

All of Arizona State’s overtime points have come from the free-throw line. Skinner has a game-high 26 points.

The Bruins went 0 for 8 from three-point range in the second half, but have made both of their attempts in overtime.

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Emily Bessoir is back

Emily Bessoir knocked down a big three-pointer — UCLA’s first of the second half and overtime — to give the Bruins some breathing room.

UCLA is up 71-66 with 1:52 remaining. Arizona State called a timeout after Charisma Osborne followed Bessoir’s three-pointer with a steal and a bucket in transition.

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Foul trouble for UCLA in overtime

Senior Camryn Brown has fouled out for the Bruins with the score tied 66-66 with 3:11 remaining in overtime.

Brown is a critical piece of UCLA’s defense and a connector on offense. She was plus-14 when she was on the court during regulation despite having a relatively quiet four points and five rebounds.

Freshman Gabriela Jaquez has also fouled out.

Charisma Osborne has scored all of UCLA’s points in overtime and had 12 on the game, which is tied for the team-high with Londynn Jones.

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Kiki Rice’s block sends us to overtime

Kiki Rice has nerves of steal.

Not only did the freshman deliver the game-tying basket on offense, she came up with the overtime-forcing block against Jaddan Simmons to keep us knotted at 62-62.

Simmons has 15 points behind ASU star Tyi Skinner’s 24 points.

Rice has 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists in her first posteason game. The Bruins were just 2 of 16 from the field in the fourth quarter. They led by 19 with 5:03 left in the third quarter.

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Kiki Rice ties game with 1:27 left

Kiki Rice’s driving layup with 1:27 remaining got a UCLA fan sitting courtside so excited that he fell out of his chair.

We’re tied at 62-62 coming down the wire. That was just UCLA’s second field goal of the fourth quarter.

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Tyi Skinner puts Arizona State ahead

Arizona State took the lead with a three-pointer from Tyi SKinner with 3:15 remaining.

ASU leads 62-60 after trailing by as many as 19 in the third quarter.

Don’t forget that the Sun Devils were 1-17 in the Pac-12 this year.

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UCLA stuck in another close game late

UCLA’s cushy 19-point third-quarter lead is down to three.

The Bruins led 60-57 with 4:27 left in the fourth as Arizona State has outscored them 11-4 in the fourth quarter. ASU is on an extended 21-6 run from the third quarter.

This is a familiar experience for the Bruins. They survived two three-point games against USC, but lost their seven Pac-12 games by an average of just 5.7 points, including overtime heartbreakers against Colorado and Arizona and a two-point loss against Utah.

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Arizona State keeps momentum in fourth quarter

With UCLA shooting just 1 of 8 from the field to start the fourth quarter, Arizona State has chopped the lead to single digits.

UCLA was forced to call a timeout leading 58-52 with 6:43 remaining after back-to-back three-pointers from Tyi Skinner.

Skinner had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range.

UCLA, which shot 50% from three-point range in the first half, is 0 for 7 in the second half.

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Arizona State closes gap heading into fourth quarter

Just when it looked like UCLA was going to cruise to a comfortable win, Arizona State woke up.

The Sun Devils ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run to close the gap to 10 points entering the fourth quarter. UCLA leads, 56-46.

Londynn Jones leads UCLA with 12 points as the team’s only double-digit scorer. Arizona State is making its run behind Tyi Skinner (15 points) and Jaddan Simmons (12 points, six rebounds).

Emily Bessoir has been quiet since the first quarter and is still stuck on nine points and seven rebounds.

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Charisma Osborne has entered the chat

UCLA’s leading scorer was quiet in the first half, but is in attack mode to begin the second with six straight points.

UCLA is up 45-29 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter as Osborne has scored all of UCLA’s second-half points.

She drove aggressively into the paint for her first two baskets and capitalized in transition as Kiki Rice and Gina Conti pushed the ball up the court. Conti found Obsorne with a great touch pass for a layup.

Osborne has eight points on 4-of-7 shooting.

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Back for the second half

And we’re back.

UCLA is leading 39-25. Arizona State’s Tyi Skinner, who earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention, leads the Sun Devils with 11 points.

The winner of Wednesday’s first-round game plays No. 4 seed Arizona on Thursday at noon PT. UCLA lost to Arizona in February in overtime.

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Balanced scoring as UCLA in front at halftime

UCLA’s only All-Pac-12 selection has just two points, but the Bruins are still comfortably in the lead 39-25 against Arizona State at halftime.

Charisma Osborne, who leads the Bruins in scoring with 15.3 points per game, scored her first basket halfway through the second quarter, but her slow start hasn’t affected the Bruins. Every UCLA player who has entered the game has scored at least two points, led by Emily Bessoir’s nine points to go along with seven rebounds.

Osborne also has three rebounds. Freshman Kiki Rice, who had no assists in the past two games, has a team-high three to go with seven points. She even knocked down a rare three-pointer, just her 10th made three of the year. UCLA is five-of-10 from deep.

UCLA’s physicality is showing on the boards with a 24-17 rebounding advantage, which has contributed to a 9-2 edge in second-chance points.

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UCLA defense stepping up in second quarter

Arizona State is on a three-minute, 47-second scoring drought as the Bruins extend their lead to 26-15 with 5:40 remaining in the second quarter.

UCLA is on a 6-0 run during that time while forcing three turnovers.

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UCLA leads after first quarter

UCLA leads 20-14 after the first quarter despite getting outshot from the field.

Arizona State is shooting at a 50% clip (7-for-14) while UCLA is 8-for-21. But the Bruins are making their shots count with four made three-pointers, led by a 3-for-3 effort from Emily Bessoir.

The sophomore from Germany has a game-high nine points and five rebounds.

UCLA is outrebounding Arizona State 11-8 with five offensive rebounds to the Sun Devils’ zero.

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Emily Bessoir has UCLA out to early lead

UCLA leads 15-6 with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter after Arizona State was forced to take a timeout.

The Bruins are on an 8-0 run, led by back-to-back three-pointers by Emily Bessoir.

UCLA has six second-chance points off three offensive rebounds on seven missed field goals. Not a surprise that the Bruins are dominating the glass as they’re the top offensive rebounding team in the Pac-12. UCLA is outrebounding Arizona State 8-4.

Bessoir has a team-high nine points with four rebounds.

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UCLA opens Pac-12 tournament with Arizona State

Hello from Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas! This is Thuc Nhi Nguyen, I’ll be here all week covering UCLA and USC in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament. Both teams are slated to play in the first round Wednesday, starting with the Bruins.

UCLA, the tournament’s fifth seed, starts with No. 12 seed Arizona State (8-19, 1-15 Pac-12 Conference). The Bruins (22-8, 11-7) are led by senior Charisma Osborne, the team’s only All-Pac-12 selection this year. Osborne leads the team in points (15.3) and rebounds (5.9) and is the first guard to lead UCLA in rebounding since the 2014-15 season when Nirra Fields did so.

Freshmen Kiki Rice and Londynn Jones earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors.

With the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, the Bruins rose to as high as No. 8 in the Associated Press poll but struggled to close out games in the Pac-12. Their seven Pac-12 losses are by an average of 5.7 points. Their largest margin of defeat this year, 13 points, came against Pac-12 champion Stanford. After ending the regular season with two losses in their last three games, UCLA needs a long run in the Pac-12 tournament to keep hopes alive for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament that would afford the Bruins hosting duties in the first two rounds.

UCLA will be without freshman forward Lina Sontag in the first round. She is out with a non-covid illness, according to a team spokesperson.

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