Press-Telegram (Long Beach)

Inside: UCLA and Stanford face off in rubber match in women’s Pac-12 Tournament final today.

- By Haley Sawyer

The UCLA women’s basketball team is headed to the Pac-12 Conference Tournament final, where it will face top-seeded Stanford.

After two gritty tournament games against Washington and Arizona, the third-seeded Bruins were dedicating most of Saturday to physical recovery and mental preparatio­n before facing the Cardinal (24-2) today for the third time this season.

“We’ve played Stanford twice and I think it’s going to be more on the coaches and using film really wisely and having our game plan really succinct,” said UCLA coach Cori Close after the quarterfin­al win over Arizona. “But it will really be about recovery and mentality more than anything else.”

The Bruins (16-4) lost to Stanford, 61-49, in mid-December, then picked up a 70-66 win in a mid-January rematch.

In the most recent game, Charisma Osborne scored 24 points and Michaela Onyenwere recorded a double-double.

“I think we’ve proven that we are a team to beat,” Onyenwere said. “Obviously, Stanford is a great team. They’ve been having a great year. But we were able to get a win up in Santa Cruz against them and so I think that does give us confidence a little bit. But every game is a new game.”

Although Onyenwere and Osborne have been leaders on the stat sheets, their teammates have been making an impact.

Natalie Chou and Emily Bessoir both had double-digit scoring performanc­es in UCLA’s last game against Stanford and were contributo­rs in the quarterfin­al game against Arizona in terms of points, rebounds and hustle.

“I really talk a lot about passion plays in our program and she is the epitome of what that means,” Onyenwere said of Chou. “And so for her to get those little deflection­s, little steals, those rebounds that you have to reach a little bit farther for is just so huge for her.”

Lauryn Miller has also drawn praise from her coach and teammates for her intangible contributi­ons.

“I really do think it starts with Lauryn,” Close said. “She plays such a unique, pivotal role. She’s one of our highest basketball IQ players. The way that she plays her role with such steadiness and versatilit­y and commitment to the team first, that sets the tone for other people coming in.”

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