SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Michaela Onyenwere gave UCLA’s offense a boost just when the Bruins needed it.
She finished with 25 points and seven rebounds Friday to lead No. 8 UCLA to a 69-58 victory over the Utes. She passed Michelle Greco for 11th place on UCLA’s all-time scoring list.
Many of her baskets came during critical stretches in the first half to keep the Utes from building momentum.
”Every game I can say something about her effort,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. ”That’s what I love about Michaela the most is that you never ever have to coach her effort.”
Chantel Horvat finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Bruins. Natalie Chou also added 12 points and Charisma Osborne 10. The Bruins (12-3, 9-3 Pac-12) overcame 40% shooting from the field by scoring 25 points off 15 Utah turnovers.
”That was a big part of our game plan to try to create easy offense out of our defense,” Close said. ”I thought they did a good job coming at us, but I do think those were critical buckets.”
Brynna Maxwell led the Utes with 14 points and six assists. Kemery Martin added 12 points. Utah (5-12, 4-12 Pac-12) went 3-of-18 from 3-point range after entering the game ranked in the top third of Pac-12 teams for 3-pointers made.
UCLA scored 16 points off eight Utah turnovers by halftime to take control early.
”We want to be able to take the other team out of what they do well and what they do best,” Onyenwere said. ”There’s definitely room for improvement on the defensive end, but I’m proud that we were able to force them into turnovers and then capitalize on those.”
The Bruins shot 50% from 3-point range before halftime, going 6-of-12 from outside. Osborne capped a 13-4 run with back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Bruins a 15-8 lead.
The Utes cut the deficit to 21-20 midway through the second quarter after Lola Pendande and Martin keyed an 8-0 run with two baskets apiece. UCLA missed four straight shots to open the door for a rally.
Onyenwere got the Bruins back on track, scoring three baskets to fuel a 12-0 run. Her final jumper in that stretch finished the run and extended UCLA’s lead to 35-22.
”I just came out with a focused effort and a focused mindset,” Onyenwere said. ”My teammates were doing a great job of getting me the ball in great positions.”
The Bruins opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to push their lead to 43-25. UCLA scored baskets on three straight possessions, highlighted by two layups from Horvat.
THE BIG PICTURE
UCLA: The Bruins defeated Utah for the 18th consecutive time dating to 2001 and beat the Utes by double digits for the sixth straight time. UCLA did it by defending the perimeter well and scoring repeatedly off Utah turnovers.
Utah: The Utes fell to 0-6 vs. Top 10 opponents on the season after struggling to get on track on offense. Utah twice went without field goals over five-minute stretches late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter.
UCLA: Visits Colorado on Sunday.
Utah: Hosts USC on Sunday.
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