Los Angeles Times
UCLA roars back to stun Stanford
game for just the second time in 13 tries. The Bruins trailed by as many as 16 in the second half.
At the final horn, Osborne ran into freshman forward Christeen Iwuala’s arms as the Bruins jumped up and down in celebration at midcourt.
“It wasn’t pretty the entire time, but even if you saw us after the game, we had so much joy,” Osborne said. “So I think this actually might be one of my favorite games that I’ve ever played in.”
After getting outscored 42-25 in the fourth quarters against Stanford in two losses, UCLA opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to three.
Gina Conti knocked down two big three-pointers, including one at the 5:40 mark to bring the Bruins to within two. The graduate transfer from Wake Forest finished with 11 points and made three three-pointers, her most made shots from long distance since Jan. 13 against Stanford.
In that game at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA was down by two at the end of the third quarter before getting blown out 21-10 in the fourth. Lategame struggles plagued the Bruins all season as the fourth was the only quarter in which they were outscored this season. The problem returned in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament against Arizona State when the Bruins gave up a 19-point third-quarter lead.
But by holding off the Sun Devils and protecting a lead for a comfortable win against Arizona in the quarterfinals, the Bruins showed their maturity as freshmen such as Rice blossomed.
“We know that we don’t want to feel that pain again,” Rice said of the regular-season losses. “Last time against Stanford, I feel like we could have won that game too. So this time I feel like we came out, we gave it our all and everyone was just hunting for their shot.”
Fellow freshman Lina Sontag stepped up with four points and four rebounds while guarding Stanford’s Cameron Brink, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds but was one for six from the field in the second half.
Close walked into the postgame news conference with her formerly curled hairstyle flattened by water sprayed around the locker room. Her gray pants were soaked through and she joked no one would want to sit in her seat after she was done.But she didn’t leave the arena without saying that Friday’s watery celebration wasn’t the last one the Bruins wanted to experience in Las Vegas.
“As thrilled as we are for this game, and this is a monumental win, we didn’t come here to beat Stanford in the semifinals,” Close said. “We came here to pursue a championship at the highest levels.”