Home College BasketBall No. 3 LSU Subdues The UCLA Bruins In The Sweet 16 In...

No. 3 LSU Subdues The UCLA Bruins In The Sweet 16 In Albany

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Photo Credit: ChristopherWinslow

Albany, NY—-In this latest episode of March disappointment for UCLA, the scene unfolded in MVP Arena with the Bruins facing another missed opportunity. Leading the defending champions with minutes to spare, hope was palpable, but it quickly faded as they stumbled to a 78-69 loss against Louisiana State in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Despite Coach Cori Close’s leadership, UCLA fell short, plagued by missed shots and defensive lapses.

Flau’jae Johnson scored 24 points and 12 boards and Angel Reese put up her 26th double-double of the season Saturday as LSU (31-5) beat UCLA 78-69 in the Sweet 16 in the Albany Region.

“We’re the good villains,” Reese said. “We’re impacting the game so much and all of us are super competitive and want to win and do whatever it takes to win. We’re just changing the game.”

Lauren Betts poured in14 points and 17 boards for the Bruins, which finished the season at 27-7. Londynn Jones and Gabriela Jaquez also put up 14 points each and Kiki Rice chipped in13 for UCLA.

LSU led by seven points at halftime 34-27. But after making just two of their first 20 shots from beyond the arc, the Bruins knocked down four of their next five.

Consecutive 3-pointers from Jones keyed an 11-2 run that gave UCLA the lead at 45-44, and the teams were tied at 48 headed into the fourth quarter.

Photo Credit: Christopher Winslow

Jaquez hit a jumper that gave the Bruins a 67-64 lead with 2:46 left. But LSU responded with its run, sparked when Reese blocked a shot by Betts, leading to a drive by Johnson that fouled out Rice.

Reflecting on the defeat, Close took responsibility, acknowledging the team’s struggles in crucial moments. For players like Kiki Rice, the loss stung, with dreams of championship glory dashed. Despite the frustration, players like Gabriela Jaquez found resolve, seeing this setback as fuel for the future. Sloppy play and poor shooting contributed to UCLA’s downfall, while LSU capitalized on their opportunities. Despite efforts from players like Charisma Osborne and Lauren Betts, the Bruins couldn’t overcome their errors.

Tensions flared briefly post-game, but Close refuted any claims of inappropriate behavior from her coaching staff. As the Bruins grappled with the defeat, the road to recovery seemed long and arduous, requiring time to heal from yet another disappointment.

“I think that I wasn’t scared of the moment,” Johnson said of her game. “I really loved the delight. I love that underdog feeling. Coach Mulkey told me go do what you do, and I did.”