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No. 9 UCLA women’s basketball team routs Cal State Fullerton in delayed season opener

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Key plays from the No. 9 UCLA women’s basketball team’s 98-49 season-opening victory over Cal State Fullerton on Friday.

UCLA made it worth the wait.

After the No. 9 Bruins’ season opener was postponed by two days, they picked up a dominant 98-49 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the rescheduled game Friday at Pauley Pavilion.

Sophomore Charisma Osborne led the Bruins with 31 points and a career-high six assists. Preseason All-American Michaela Onyenwere added 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists for UCLA, which forced 25 turnovers and scored 44 points off the miscues, never letting the Titans get closer than 10 points after the 2:30 mark in the first quarter.

“This is as much about the purity of the love of the game and the collegiate sports experience and what it does for young people as it does a win or a start to a normal season,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “This is about a lot of deeper things.”

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On Wednesday, the Bruins arrived on campus at 8 a.m. buzzing with excitement. They had waited more than eight months for the game. They came to Pauley Pavilion and warmed up. Then they were told there was a 15-minute delay as Fullerton awaited COVID-19 test results. Then 15 minutes turned into an hour. Then an hour turned into an indefinite postponement.

Delivering the final news to her team in the locker room was like “the wind was just taken out of their sails,” Close said.

Instead of stewing in the disappointment, the Bruins, wearing their full game uniforms, went to Mo Ostin Center for practice. During the one-hour, 15-minute session, they were “elite,” Close said.

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“This year is all about adapting,” Onyenwere said. “This team has continued to step up to the plate when those opportunities present themselves.”

The Titans got retested Wednesday night, Close said, when UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond signed off on paying for additional PCR tests, each costing about $80. The results came in Thursday, and the team had rapid-response tests Friday.

“We needed to make sure there was no chance [of a positive case],” Close said. “You see the number of games that have already been canceled across the country, so it was really important that we had an opportunity to play this game.”

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Just as the Bruins passed a major hurdle in this pandemic-affected season, another one appeared. With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a new stay-at-home order Friday, prohibiting all public and private gatherings with individuals not in the same household, excluding church services and protests.

How the order might affect sports remains to be seen. For the Bruins, it’s a reminder that they must continue to insulate themselves as much as possible to keep their season going.

“We have a saying in our program: ‘You can never get tired of doing it right,’ ” Close said. “We can’t let it wear us down.”


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