With Charli Collier struggling on offense and saddled with foul trouble, Texas got contributions from other players to advance to the Sweet 16.
Celeste Taylor scored 24 points, Kyra Lambert added 17 and the No. 6 seed Longhorns beat third-seeded UCLA 71-62 in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night.
“We’re not one person. Charli has carried us a lot this year. There were nights we couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we were standing on the beach at high tide,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. “To see us go out and do what we did, score 71 points, and do it the way we did it is the sign of development of a team.”
The start of the game was delayed about 25 minutes because Iowa State and Texas A&M went into overtime on the court on the other side of the Alamodome. Texas and UCLA walked back to their locker rooms when the other game went to the extra session and both teams were looking up at the giant videoboards to catch the Aggies’ buzzer-beating win.
The long wait didn’t seem to bother Texas (20-9), which outscored the Bruins 22-6 in the second to go up 35-14 at halftime. That including holding UCLA (17-6) scoreless for nearly 6:30 minutes during a 12-0 run.
UCLA coach Cori Close refused to use the delay as an excuse.
“I don’t know, things happen. This year you have to be adaptable. We went back to the locker room and said here we go, another time to be adaptable,” she said. “The same thing happened to Texas that happened to us and they handled it a little bit better. Was it ideal? No. This whole year wasn’t ideal.”
UCLA showed much more fight in the second half, cutting the deficit to 51-41 after three quarters. Charisma Osborne’s three-point play with a second left got the Bruins as close as they had been since early in the second quarter.
But UCLA absorbed a couple of big blows early in the fourth. Michaela Onyenwere picked up her fourth foul, and Lauryn Miller crumpled to the floor after turning the ball over on the baseline. She had to be helped off the court and walked gingerly to the locker room midway through the quarter with assistance. She returned a few minutes later with a crutch and a heavy wrap on her right knee.
The Bruins kept hanging around and got within nine, but a busted play led to a corner 3-pointer by Joanne Allen-Taylor that restored Texas’ double-digit lead with 4:12 left. The Bruins couldn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.
Next up for Texas is a matchup with Maryland on Sunday.
The game was expected to be a post battle between potential No. 1 picks in the WNBA draft Collier of Texas and Onyenwere of UCLA.
Collier, who was averaging 20 points and nearly 12 rebounds, was hampered by foul trouble. She finished with five points and five rebounds. Lambert picked up the slack with 10 boards.
Onyenwere did all she could, scoring 21 points before fouling out. She had 10 of the team’s 14 points in the first half. The rest of the team missed 13 of its 14 shots in the opening 20 minutes.
By the time she got a little bit of help, it was too late for the Bruins, who reached the Sweet 16 in the previous four NCAA Tournaments.
“UCLA has had everything to do with the player I am and the person I am today,” Onyenwere said through tears. “Coach Cori said this game doesn’t define our season and how hard we worked. … I’m incredibly proud of my team this year, I’m incredibly proud and honored to go to UCLA and have the experiences that I did. But yeah, today was rough, but I’m extremely grateful for just everything UCLA has given me.”
Onyenwere moved into fourth on UCLA’s career scoring list with 1,888 points. She came into the game tied for fifth and passed Rehema Stephens, who was fourth with 1,887. … UCLA had held three of its previous four opponents to under 50 points. Texas reached that mark by the end of the third quarter.