LOS ANGELES — Japreece Dean stalled the ball at center court. She waited until the game clock ticked down to 10 seconds before releasing her 3-point shot. She saw the ball swish through the net and immediately began to jump up and down and scream as she held up three fingers on both hands.
It was the icing on a night when she reached a career milestone and a major comeback performance for the Bruins.
Dean had 22 points (including her 1,000th as a Bruin) and career-high 12 assists, Charisma Osborne scored a career-high 22 points, including seven in overtime, and eighth-ranked UCLA rallied to defeat 15th-ranked Oregon State 83-74 on Monday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Michaela Onyenwere added 16 points and 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying five steals for the Bruins (22-3, 11-3 Pac-12), who overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter and improved to 3-1 in overtime games this season.
UCLA has come out of the toughest stretch of its season – five ranked opponents in six games – with four wins and a new sense of grit.
“I thought the games in which we really rose up, it was out of toughness and togetherness. The ones that we didn’t, we let the wrong things distract us,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said. “I just learned, right here at the end of this game, that when they put their mind to something, when they control their responses, they’re very tough to beat.”
Mikayla Pivec had 19 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 3:42 left in overtime for the Beavers (19-7, 7-7), who have dropped three in a row. Destiny Slocum also had 19 points but was held to three points in the five-minute extra session.
The Bruins never trailed in overtime, getting 3-pointers from Osborne and Dean. OSU freshman forward Taylor Jones fouled out 30 seconds into overtime, and the loss of Pivec less than a minute later were significant problems for the Beavers, who were limited to two field goals and three free throws.
Clinging to a three-point lead in OT, Onyenware hit a pair of free throws and then stole the ball. She fed Osborne, who sank a 3-pointer for a 76-68 lead with 3:29 left and UCLA never looked back.
Osborne missed all eight of her 3-point attempts in UCLA’s 80-66 loss to third-ranked Oregon on Friday. She was 3 for 14 from the floor in that game.
“I was definitely relieved because I know I shot really poorly in the last game, but my teammates kept encouraging me,” Osborne said.
Onyenware pulled Osborne aside between games to say that “I have the utmost confidence in her,” the junior forward said.
Osborne sought out Close after the Oregon loss and came in early to watch film over the weekend. “She is putting in the work,” Close said. “She earned every bit of this.”
Dean, who became the 36th player in program history to reach 1,000 points with a second-quarter layup, acknowledged her disappointment with the team’s ability to fight back in Friday’s loss. On Monday, her teammates showed they heard their senior point guard’s message.
“It was just a different energy about us,” Dean said. “We knew that we weren’t ourselves Friday night against Oregon. I think people responded. People individually got themselves ready and looked themselves in the mirror and were ready to play today.”
It wasn’t just UCLA’s starters who delivered, either. In her biggest game of conference play, sophomore guard Kiara Jefferson came off the bench and gave the Bruins a major boost on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter. Her five points and two rebounds, including UCLA’s final basket of regulation, helped push the game into overtime.
“She was a total momentum shift,” Close said. “I just thanked her in the locker room. I said, ‘Thank you for your selflessness. Thank you for always staying ready, thank you for always putting the team first and staying engaged so that when your number was called you were ready to deliver.’ I thought she was absolutely pivotal.”
The score was tied five times in the fourth, the last at 67-all on a basket by Maddie Washington. Dean had a 3-pointer rim out on the previous possession for UCLA.
The Beavers built a 14-point lead – their largest of the game – with a 14-5 spurt to open the third. The Bruins answered with a 22-11 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers from Osborne and another from Dean, to trail 56-53 going into the fourth.
Not only were shots finally falling for the Bruins, who went seven minutes without a field goal in the second quarter and trailed 31-26 at halftime, they stayed in the game with their defense. UCLA forced the Beavers into a season-high 24 turnovers.
“It was more of an emotional thing more than anything else, we’ve just been struggling so much shooting the ball, when you get to see it go through the net it definitely feeds your energy on the defensive end,” Close said. “They’re a very complex, offensive scheming team, we sorta took that totally out of the mix by our defensive pressure.”
Slocum appeared to take an awkward turn and went down early in the second quarter with the Beavers trailing by four. She was helped off the court while not putting weight on her right foot.
Slocum returned with four minutes to play in the period and promptly hit a 3-pointer. She made another one to help the Beavers outscore the Bruins 17-10 in the quarter and lead 31-26 at halftime.
The Bruins have not dropped consecutive games this season. They improved to 12-1 at home and have won 73 of its previous 82 games at Pauley Pavilion.
“I’m exhausted and I didn’t even play,” Close said. “In this conference, every win you gotta just scratch and claw. .. I want them to enjoy every moment of this because we’ve got four more battle games in the regular season, and I need their hearts ready to go do that.”
The Bruins go on their final trip of the regular season next weekend when they visit the Washington schools. UCLA faces Washington State (11-5, 4-10) in Pullman on Friday and Washington (11-4, 3-11) on Sunday in Seattle.
News services contributed to this story.
— UCLA W. Basketball (@UCLAWBB) February 18, 2020
“We’ve just been struggling so much shooting the ball. When you get to see it go through the net, it really feeds your energy on the defensive end.” –@CoachCloseUCLA
— UCLA W. Basketball (@UCLAWBB) February 18, 2020