No. 12-ranked UCLA women rally late to defeat USC
Rayah Marshall stood in the corner and watched with her arms folded across her chest. At midcourt, Gabriela Jaquez wrapped Londynn Jones in a hug, the smiles on the UCLA freshmen’s faces inspired by joy and relief while the scowl on Marshall’s face showed the disappointment of another rivalry opportunity gone.
UCLA clawed back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat USC 61-60 on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion, securing its eighth consecutive win in the crosstown rivalry and second straight rivalry victory by one possession.
Jones led the Bruins with a career-high 22 points off the bench as the No. 12 Bruins (14-2, 3-1 Pac-12) limited USC to just two-of-eight shooting in the fourth quarter and escaped after forcing a contested three-point shot by Destiny Littleton on the final possession that resulted in a harmless put-back basket.
After the victory in front of a season-high home crowd of 6,638, UCLA coach Cori Close spoke briefly with Cori Andersen, John Wooden’s great-granddaughter. Wooden first bonded with Close, then a UCLA assistant, because of how her first name was spelled the same as Andersen’s. One of Close’s last living ties to Wooden, Andersen told the UCLA coach she was proud of how the Bruins fought.
“And that girl from the Inland Empire,” Close recalled of Andersen’s remarks, “she’s pretty dang good.”
Jones, a 5-foot-4 shooting guard from Riverside, has scored career highs in back-to-back games. The freshman was six-of-11 shooting for the game and scored seven points in the final quarter, including four during a 10-0 UCLA run to open the fourth quarter. She cut the deficit to two with an acrobatic layup with 7:17 remaining.
“She’s got this moxie about her,” Close said.
After their second-half comeback attempt came up short in a 59-56 loss to UCLA in Galen Center on Dec. 15, the Trojans (11-4, 1-3 Pac-12) were the ones trying to hang on to a late lead Sunday. Marshall broke out for 13 points in the second and third quarters to help USC build a 12-point lead on the final possession of the third.
But the 6-foot-4 forward was held scoreless in the fourth and fouled out with 15 points and eight rebounds with 1:39 remaining.
The Trojans were without leading scorer Kadi Sissoko, who missed her second consecutive game because of an undisclosed injury. Guard Kayla Williams, a transfer from UC Irvine, scored a season-high 15 points in Sissoko’s absence.
“I’m just devastated for our players,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said, her eyes watery and red. “When a team puts out an effort like that, I want them to be able to celebrate that in the locker room and I’m just disappointed and devastated that we couldn’t get it home. Really that I couldn’t get them home to the finish line in the fourth quarter.”
Struggling from the field, where she missed 13 of her first 14 shots, UCLA senior Charisma Osborne put the Bruins ahead by one with a short jumper at the 3:31 mark of the fourth. She finished with nine points on a labored two-of-16 shooting, playing more than 37 minutes in her first game back from a shoulder injury that kept her out of UCLA’s loss to Oregon State on Jan. 1.
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