Watching the ball float through the air, Japreece Dean confidently leaned backward, the redshirt senior’s arms straight down by her sides. When her three-pointer splashed through the net, Dean threw her head back in celebration.
After her would-be game-winning shot trickled off the rim at the end of regulation, the point guard’s three-pointer with 10 seconds left in No. 8 UCLA’s 83-74 overtime win against No. 15 Oregon State at Pauley Pavilion capped a memorable Monday night for Dean. Not only did she lead the Bruins back from a 14-point deficit, but she also became the 36th player to reach 1,000 points in their UCLA career, finishing with 22 points, a career-high 12 assists to just two turnovers, and four steals.
“End of February, point guards and guard play is everything,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “When you have your point guard playing at that kind of level, you have a lot of fun basketball left to play.”
The Bruins (22-3, 11-3 Pac-12) were inches away from winning in regulation, but Dean’s floater at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim and trickled out. Distraught, the former Texas Tech guard fell to the floor. She covered her face.
During the huddle before overtime, freshman Camryn Brown gave Dean an encouraging tap on the arm. Dean responded with a determined nod. She came back in overtime by either scoring or assisting every UCLA field goal.
“Credit to my teammates and coaches, just encouraging me,” Dean said.
Charisma Osborne broke out of a recent shooting slump with a career-high 22 points and eight rebounds. The freshman shot 18.4% from three-point range during the previous seven games but made four of 10 Monday, including one to put the Bruins up by eight with 3:30 to go in overtime.
Osborne’s shot was part of seven unanswered UCLA points and came off a steal from Michaela Onyenwere, who had a career high-tying five steals with 16 points and 11 rebounds. UCLA shot just 39% from the field to Oregon State’s 50%, but scored 23 points off 24 turnovers committed by the Beavers.
Oregon State (19-7, 7-7 Pac-12) started the second half by making five of six shots to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 14-point cushion with 7:19 to go in the third quarter.
Then the struggling Bruins suddenly found their offense. They made eight of their next 10 shots en route to 27 third-quarter points. They scored just 26 points in the first half.
UCLA came out of a rigorous six-game stretch that included five ranked opponents with four victories. The Bruins nabbed wins at No. 21 Arizona State, No. 4 Stanford and Cal before Monday’s comeback. The losses were double-digit defeats at No. 11 Arizona and against No. 3 Oregon.
Three weeks ago, Close said the gantlet would teach her team much-needed lessons.
“The games in which we really rose up, it was out of toughness and togetherness,” Close said. “The ones that we didn’t, we let wrong things distract us. ... I just learned that right here at the end of this game, when they put their mind to something, when they control their responses, they are very tough to beat.”