Kiki Rice, Gabriela Jaquez propel UCLA to 84-55 victory over California Baptist in NCAA Tournament

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kiki Rice scored 20 points, Gabriela Jaquez added 17 and second-seeded UCLA cruised to an 84-55 victory over California Baptist on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Charisma Osborne finished with 15 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. The Bruins (26-6) will face seventh-seeded Creighton (26-5) in the second round on Monday for a spot in the Albany 2 Regional. The Bluejays made 15 3-pointers in their 87-73 victory over UNLV.

“Even though we were taking good shots we weren’t being rewarded, and these two (Rice and Osborne) steadied the ship,” UCLA coach Cori Close said.

Rice had 13 points in the first half, but Osborne was 1 of 7 from the field and had only four points. The senior's nine rebounds in the first and second quarters were vital though, as the Bruins had an 8-0 advantage in second-chance points in the first half.

“Definitely was a fast, physical game. They have a lot of quick guards and they play like basically five guards the entire time, so we knew we would have to really get out in the perimeter and be ready to defend,” Rice said.

Kinsley Barrington scored 16 points and Nae Nae Calhoun had 12 for California Baptist (28-4).

The 15th-seeded Lancers, who were making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, were 12th in the nation in scoring, averaging 81.1 points, but shot 28.8% from the field.

California Baptist coach Jarrod Olson thought Jaquez was one of the major factors in the game.

“She looked like her older brother (former UCLA standout and Miami Heat rookie guard Jaime Jaquez Jr.), which was a bad thing for us. She played great,” Olson said. “Just the hustle plays and she really sparked them. Just defensively she’s really tough, especially because we’re not super big either. You just added another elite defender to an elite defensive team, so it was a tough night for us in that way.”

Rice hit a pair of free throws to give UCLA a 24-12 advantage midway though the second quarter before California Baptist scored nine straight points to get within three. The Bruins, though, countered with a 10-1 run and went into halftime with a 34-22 advantage.

Jaquez hit a free throw to end California Baptist's rally and a UCLA scoring drought of nearly four minutes. She missed her second, but Angela Dugalic got the rebound and threw it out to Rice, who hit an open 3-pointer.

The Bruins opened the second half with eight straight points to put it out of reach.

The only drama that remained late in the game was if Osbourne would get the 18th triple-double in women's NCAA Tournament play and the first since Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu in 2019.

Osborne threw a pass to Rice in the corner during the final minute, but Rice's 3-pointer went off the rim.

“It’s OK. She’ll make the next one,” Osborne said.

Los Angeles Clippers star Russell Westbrook, who is the NBA's career leader in triple-doubles, was at the game with his wife Nina Earl-Westbrook, who also played for the Bruins.

BIG PICTURE

California Baptist: The Lancers, whose Riverside, California, campus is 71 miles from Pauley Pavilion, sold over 1,000 tickets for the game.

UCLA: It was the sixth time in eight games that the Bruins have scored 70 or more points.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness