October 19, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Michaela Onyenwere leads No. 11 UCLA to 73-52 win over USC

Michaela Onyenwere watched from the bench in January during UCLA’s double-overtime loss at USC. The senior forward made sure the Bruins wouldn’t suffer the same fate Sunday.

After an ankle injury kept her out of last season’s game at Galen Center, Onyenwere led No. 11 UCLA to a wire-to-wire 73-52 win at USC on Sunday with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists.

Charisma Osborne got the Bruins (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) started with 13 of her 18 points in the first quarter, then Onyenwere delivered the knockout punch with 14 points in the third quarter as UCLA took a 12-point halftime lead and expanded it to 27.

“To come back here against your rival and get a win on their home floor, a dominant win, it’s super, super cool,” Onyenwere said. “USC always gives a good fight, and it’s always been a great rivalry. I’m really, really just grateful to be able to put the four letters on my chest every single day [and] represent UCLA.”

The Bruins dominated in almost every facet as they had 22 assists on 28 made baskets, including a career-high-tying six assists from Osborne, and outrebounded USC 44-29, led by nine boards from Chantel Horvat. USC freshman Amaya Oliver, who led the conference in rebounding with 10.7 per game entering Sunday, had just one rebound.

Forward Jordan Sanders led USC with 12 points and six rebounds in a reserve role, while guard Desiree Caldwell had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.

Without star forward Alissa Pili, who is expected to miss significant time with an undisclosed injury, the Trojans (1-3, 0-3) missed all six of their field-goal tries in the third quarter and scored just five points on free throws.

“It’s moving the ball, and I think it’s timing,” USC coach Mark Trakh said. “We just gotta get back to work and work on our offenses, and I think we’ll be fine.”

UCLA’s multiple defensive looks tested the Trojans, who hadn’t spent much practice time preparing for a zone defense like the one the Bruins used to open the third quarter, Trakh said. In a normal season, teams would have several nonconference games under their belts to work out those kinks. This season, the Trojans had just one before jumping into Pac-12 play, in which they have lost three straight. The Bruins had two nonconference games. Both teams are determined to learn on the fly during their coronavirus-affected seasons.

“By the time we get to February and March, I think we can grow into a really good basketball team,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “But if I’m just being candid, we’re not there yet.”