The Bruins were doomed by a miserable offensive first half and will be left wondering what might have been had they been able to crack Texas’ defense earlier in the contest.
For the first 20 minutes, UCLA never looked comfortable with the basketball in their hands. They had 6 turnovers to just 8 points in the first quarter alone and did even worse in the second quarter, managing just 6 points. Their ball movement was swallowed up by the Longhorns, and their star, Michaela Onyenwere, was largely kept in check.
The Bruins tried to keep it competitive, but eventually the offensive struggles bled onto the defensive side of things, and Texas started to find their scoring rhythm. When the dust had settled after the first half, the Bruins were carrying a 35-14 deficit into the locker room, and looking fairly despondent.
UCLA finally found rhythm in the third quarter, but it was too little, too late. They nearly doubled their first half output in the third frame alone, dialing it up for 27 points. A three-point play by Charisma Osborne with 1.8 seconds remaining in the period made it a 10-point game going into the fourth, and gave the Bruins energy and momentum.
Yet the Longhorns seemed to have an answer for every punch that the Bruins threw. Every UCLA stop was met with one by Texas, and every clutch shot seemed to lead to an even bigger one on the other end of the court.
It wasn’t until the 4:41 mark that the Bruins were able to finally cut the lead to single digits, and even then, the Longhorns responded with a dagger three-pointer to all but book their ticket to the Sweet 16.
The upset was made all the more surprising by the fact that Texas star Charli Collier — one of the nation’s top players — was held to just 5 points and was in foul trouble for much of the night. But it was a team effort by the Longhorns on both ends of the court, and they held UCLA to just a lone three-pointer on the night — and it came with fewer than two minutes remaining, and the outcome essentially decided.
Texas was led by Celeste Taylor, who had a game-high 24 points on 9-for-17 shooting, and Kyra Lambert, who had an efficient double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Onyenwere led the Bruins with 21 points in the final game of her outstanding collegiate career.
It marks the end of an odd season for UCLA, which was shorthanded all year, as a handful of overseas players were unable to join the team due to the pandemic. The Bruins still went 12-4 in conference play and put together a strong season, even if it ended in disappointment.