Emily Bessoir and Gabriela Jaquez lead UCLA past Washington State
A three-pointer by Bessoir with 8:21 remaining gave UCLA an 11-point lead — its largest of the contest. Bessoir hit three of the Bruins’ nine three-pointers.
Consecutive three-pointers by Ula Motuga and Grace Sarver cut the lead to three with 2:51 to go, but the Cougars couldn’t get closer as three turnovers and no field goals in the final two minutes prevented an upset.
“We were really locked into sharing the ball and running what the scout said,” Bossier said. “Especially for me, Charisma (Osborne) set great screens and they have to stay on her because she’s one of our main scorers, but that opens up the lane for other people.”
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The Bruins (17-3, 6-2 Pac-12) forced five Cougar turnovers and held Washington State scoreless from the field over the last four minutes of the first quarter to open up an eight-point lead.
“Against a really elite Washington State team, (runs) are really big, because they’re not easy to come by,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We have so much respect for their execution on both ends of the floor and we’ve had struggles with that.”
Jessica Clarke and Astera Tuhina helped reel in the Bruins in the second quarter, combining for 10 points to spark a 9-0 run to give the Cougars their first lead.
Tuhina finished with 15 points and was one of five players in double figures for Washington State (13-7, 3-5).
“They’re gritty, they’re tough,” Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge said. “They guarded us really hard in the second half and picked up the pressure and I thought that affected us a little bit. They’re positionless and they put people in spots that they’re not used to guarding.”
Consecutive threes from Tuhina in the middle of the third quarter gave Washington State its third lead of the game, but Osborne countered with two three-pointers to give the Bruins a seven-point lead. Four Bruins scored five or more points in the third quarter and the two teams combined for eight three-pointers in the highest scoring quarter of the game.
Tuhina left the game after a collision near the Washington State bench, but returned with 3:22 remaining.
The Bruins are one of six ranked teams in the Pac-12 and can take over second place with a win over Colorado next Friday. UCLA’s 5-2 start in conference play is the second-best start under head coach Cori Close.
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