UCLA women’s basketball’s comeback falls short against Washington State

LOS ANGELES — The UCLA women’s basketball team dug itself out of a halftime deficit, but was handed its third loss of Pac-12 play on Sunday afternoon, falling to unranked Washington State, 85-82.

No. 2 UCLA (16-3 overall, 5-3 in Pac-12) was without 6-foot-7 center Lauren Betts for the second straight game, who was out due to an undisclosed reason, and Washington State took advantage of every open opportunity.

Betts, a sophomore transfer from Stanford, leads the team with 35 blocks this season.

UCLA’s Kiki Rice scored a game-high 25 points and six rebounds. Charisma Osborne added 20 points and five assists and Londynn Jones scored 19 points. Bella Murekatete led the Cougars with 20 points and seven rebounds.

UCLA found itself down by 16 points at halftime after Washington State (15-6, 4-4) pulled away with an 11-0 run in the second quarter.

The Bruins battled in the first quarter and gained an early, brief lead on a 3-pointer from Londynn Jones but Washington State responded with three straight buckets to take back control.

Rice made a layup as the shot clock expired to shrink the Cougars’ lead to 19-17 at the end of the first quarter. Jones hit a three at the start of the second quarter to momentarily put the Bruins ahead.

Jones hit 5-of-9 of her signature 3-pointers, but has also had an expanded role with the Bruins lately and caused chaos in the paint.

Washington State was out-shooting UCLA 65.5% to 43.8% by the end of the half as the Bruins struggled to protect the basket without Betts.

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Charisse Leger-Walker, the Cougars’ leading scorer in the first half, left the game roughly two minutes into the third quarter due to an apparent injury and the Bruins began a slow ascent. Osborne made two straight jumpers to provide a spark as UCLA went on to outscore Washington State 23-19 in the third quarter.

Rice scored 10 of her 25 points in the third quarter as UCLA increased its intensity to dictate the pace heading into the final quarter. Osborne hit a three and a jumper to bring the score to 74-70 and the Bruins put together another short run in the final two minutes to keep the game close.

The Bruins made a handful of free throws as the clock ticked down and Rice hurled a three-point attempt at the basket as time expired, but the ball bounced off of the glass.

UCLA is next on the road at Cal on Feb. 2, then plays Stanford on Feb. 4.

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