UCLA women rally to upset No. 14 Georgia 80-69
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michaela Onyenwere was everywhere in the fourth quarter for UCLA.
She scored 11 of her 25 points in the final period, when the Bruins ended the game on an 18-4 run to upset No. 14 Georgia 80-69 on Wednesday.
The 5-foot-11 forward also hauled down a team-high 11 rebounds, helping UCLA to a 31-30 edge on the boards.
“She plays like she’s 6-5,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “She’s aggressively posting, she rebounds. She’s a fun player to watch. We got caught sometimes on the block not moving our feet and she was able to go around us and draw some fouls.”
Kennedy Burke added 21 points for the Bruins (2-1), who trailed by 12 points early in the third quarter before producing a 31-point fourth quarter. They hit 13 of 17 free throws over the final four minutes.
“It started on defense,” Burke said. “My teammates trusted me to have more pride on defense by having more ball pressure and rebounding.”
Taja Cole led the Bulldogs (2-1) with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Gabby Connally added 19 points.
“The intensity of the game, getting down to the wire, everybody’s anxiety was going,” Cole said. “We got to do a better job of relaxing. They forced us into some turnovers at the end.”
Burke made 1 of 2 free throws to launch the game-ending offensive burst. Cole’s two baskets were the only points Georgia scored after controlling most of the game.
“They rushed us,” Taylor said. “We did a good job of controlling tempo in the first half. We just didn’t settle in the third and fourth quarter offensively.”
The Bruins’ defense forced Georgia into 15 turnovers.
UCLA tied the game for the last time on Burke’s basket that made it 65-all. Lajahna Drummer followed with a three-point play, and the Bruins scored their final 10 points on free throws.
UCLA tied the game 49-all on Burke’s steal and fast-break layup with 58 seconds left in the third. Connally’s layup put Georgia up 51-49 heading into the fourth.
The Bruins got back into it in the second quarter on a basket by Burke that left them trailing 30-28. But UCLA went 1 of 4 from the free-throw line over the final 1:28. Connally hit a 3-pointer and made another basket to keep Georgia ahead 40-31 at the break.
The Bulldogs ran off 13 straight points to take their largest lead, 22-10, of the first half. Three straight UCLA turnovers fed into fast-break baskets in the spurt.
Georgia: The Bulldogs made the cross-country trip to play one game only to lose after leading most of the way. They went 26-7 last season and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. “Last year, nobody was expecting us to do what we did,” Taylor said. “This year there’s an expectation there.”
UCLA: The Bruins are unranked and in rebuilding mode after a run of success in recent years, having lost three seniors. They start seniors Burke and Japreece Dean alongside two sophomores and a redshirt freshman.
The game tipped off at 11 a.m. PST to accommodate Georgia’s desire to avoid a late-night flight. The Bruins typically practice around the same time, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment for them.
About 3,600 elementary and middle school students attended the game as part of Field Trip Day. UCLA’s players went in the stands to thank them afterward.
“It was fun to hear their screams every play no matter what would happen,” Burke said.
Georgia: Visits Georgia Tech on Sunday in the second of four straight away games.
UCLA: Hosts Seton Hall on Sunday before heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a holiday tournament.