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    Friday, March 01, 2024

    No. 6 UConn women fall to No. 2 UCLA 78-67

    UCLA's Lauren Betts (51) goes up to shoot against UConn during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Cayman Islands Classic in George Town, Cayman Islands, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Kevin Morales)
    UConn's Paige Bueckers shoots as UCLA's Charisma Osbourne, right, defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Cayman Islands Classic in George Town, Cayman Islands, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Kevin Morales)

    George Town, Cayman Islands — Kiki Rice scored 24 points and No. 2 UCLA held off No, 6 UConn 78-67 on Friday in the Cayman Islands Classic.

    Rice also had 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Bruins (5-0), who led by as many as 23 points in the second half. Charisma Osborne added 18 points and Lauren Betts had 13 points.

    "We really were confident that if we executed the game plan, that we were going to win," UCLA coach Cori Close said. "I say that with great respect (for UConn) but I really believe in what this team is building. I didn't think we played our best basketball — we really had some moments we really need to clean up — but really proud of this next step and who we're becoming."

    It's the first time that the Bruins had beaten the Huskies.

    Paige Bueckers led all scorers with 31 points for UConn (3-2).

    "You can't beat a really good team with one player," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It was disappointing that we didn't get more contributions from more people. Our combinations are all screwed up right now, so that's got to get sorted out.. We struggled, we had our runs, we just didn't have enough."

    UCLA led by as many as 19 points in the first half before the Huskies cut that to five at halftime.

    But the Bruins scored the first seven points of the second half and outscored the Huskies 22-8 in the third period. A 3-point play by Lauren Betts gave the Bruins their first 20-point lead at 57-37 and they led by 21 after three.

    The Huskies made a run in the fourth quarter, and cut the lead to 74-65 on a 3-pointer by Bueckers with just over 2 minutes left.

    But that was a close as they would get.

    UCLA scored the game's first 10 points and led 28-12 after Camryn Brown's 3-pointer to end the first period.

    Osborne's 3-pointer to open the second quarter extended that lead to 19 points.

    But Bueckers had 18 points in the first half to keep UConn in the game. She led the Huskies on a 13-0 run to bring Connecticut back to within three at 37-34

    Rice had 14 of her points in the first half and UCLA went into the break up 39-34.

    Big picture

    UCLA: The Bruins No. 2 ranking is the highest in program history. Five Bruins came into the game averaging double figures, led by Betts at 19.5 points per game.

    UConn: Injuries have left the Huskies with just 10 healthy players for the tournament. They lost star guard Azzi Fudd last week to a knee injury and were also without starter Caroline Ducharme who has been battling concussion issues and was suffering from neck problems. Freshman center Jana El Alfy suffered a torn Achilles in the preseason and won't play this year.

    Up next

    UCLA: The Bruins face Niagara on Saturday

    UConn: The Huskies play Kansas on Saturday.

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