In danger of playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015, the UCLA Bruins put themselves back in contention with a pair of hard-fought road wins last week over Arizona and Arizona State, one coming in triple overtime, the other by two points.
The latest UCLA triumph came on Sunday afternoon in Tucson in what was the first-ever triple overtime game in program history, as the Bruins defeated the Arizona Wildcats 98-93. This was just the second three-overtime game in Pac-12 history since 2001. The last time a Pac-12 team went to three overtimes was on Nov. 15, 2008 (Arizona vs. Loyola Marymount).
Sophomore Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Dean combined for 54 points to lead the way for the Bruins. Onyenwere had 28 points and 13 rebounds, marking her seventh double-double this season, as well as her sixth 25-plus point game. Dean scored a career-best 26 points, going 9-for-9 from the charity stripe to give her 32 consecutive makes on the year. Senior Lajahna Drummer added a career-high-tying 18 points to go along with a career-high 17 boards.
UCLA found itself trailing in the final seconds of regulation, before Onyenwere tied the game with a put-back at the 3.3 mark, sending the game into overtime. Another put-back, this time by Drummer, gave UCLA a 65-64 advantage with 3:17 on the clock. Then Onyenwere notched a layup on a break-away to put the Bruins up three. Arizona kept UCLA without a field goal for nearly three minutes before Onyenwere came up with yet another huge basket, sending the game into double overtime.
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In the second overtime, the Bruins had a three-point (84-81) lead in the final seconds, needing just one stop to seal the game, but Arizona's Aari McDonald buried one of her four 3-pointers on the right wing, sending the game to a third overtime. The Wildcats (14-6, 4-5) charged to an 87-84 advantage thanks to another trey from McDonald before the Bruins fired back with a 9-2 run, capped by a corner 3-pointer from Kennedy Burke. In the final 26 seconds of the third overtime, UCLA went 5-for-6 from the line, and the Bruins held on for the historic win.
UCLA, which won its sixth straight against Arizona State, trailed by four with less than two minutes remaining before rallying to the 61-59 victory over the No. 16 ranked Sun Devils on Jan. 25. Dean, who scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds, drilled the game-winning 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining, and sophomore Lauryn Miller exploded for a career-high 17 points off the bench to propel UCLA. Onyenwere added 11 points, and Drummer just missed a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds.
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The Bruins, 11-9 overall and 4-4 in the Pac-12, returns home this week to face Washington State (Feb. 1) and Washington (Feb. 3).