LOS ANGELES (AP)Michaela Onyenwere was sitting on UCLA’s bench wearing a boot on her injured ankle and there was nothing she could do to help her team.
That changed when she was back in the lineup Friday night.
Onyenwere scored a career-high 31 points and No. 10 UCLA used an 8-1 run in overtime to seize control and beat Washington 85-80.
Natalie Chou added 18 points off the bench for the Bruins (17-1, 6-1 Pac-12), who got back on track after losing their first game of the season to USC. UCLA was the only unbeaten team in the country.
The game was tied 70-all after regulation and the Bruins sprinted to a 78-71 lead in the overtime.
“It was pretty rough to see my team go down and knowing I couldn’t do anything about it. I knew we would bounce back because we’re a bunch of fighters,” Onyenwere said. “I knew we would respond regardless if I was in or not. I was really happy to be back on the court with my teammates.”
Amber Melgoza had 14 points and Missy Peterson added 13 for Washington (10-8, 2-5), which played well but squandered a 15-point, second-quarter lead. The Huskies had 24 turnovers.
Onyenwere, who missed just that one game, shot 13 of 26 from the field and 5 for 7 from the line. In the third quarter, she made a point to be aggressive getting back in the lane and finding her shots there.
Chou came up big down the stretch. She made a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left from the baseline to give UCLA a 69-68 lead and added a steal with 11 seconds remaining. Onyenwere made one of two free throws for a 70-68 lead, but Melgoza, fouled with 4 seconds left, made both free throws, tying the game and forcing OT.
“Natalie Chou is the player of the game,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “Of course, what gets the attention is the clutch 3. She was a the only one would could hit a 3 today, but for me I’m so proud of her talk and how she’s grown as a defender and how she’s been a selfless teammate this entire time, even when she wished she had a different role.”
Chou was the only Bruin to make a 3-pointer, and UCLA had 28 attempts. Chou made 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
“My teammates have been so encouraging throughout the whole season throughout my (highs) and dips,” Chou said. “My teammates have given me so much confidence and it means the world to me. They always tell me to keep shooting.”
Onyenwere put UCLA ahead at 49-47 near the end of the third quarter. She scored off a nice bounce pass from Japreece Dean, who drove the lane and the trailing Onyenwere.
Onyenwere made it 51-47 with 1 second left in the third when she got a rebound off her own miss and scored on a putback.
To start the third quarter, Onyenwere got UCLA off to a good start with a three-point play that seemed to energize the Bruins, pulling them within seven points, 37-30.
Washington had UCLA frazzled with its zone and pressure, but it couldn’t do much about Onyenwere. No one knew if Onyenwere would play – though she said she figured she would be ready to go a couple of days ago – but Huskies coach Jody Wynn said they prepared all week as if she would play.
“We turned the ball over too much and allowed too many second-chance opportunities. To me, that’s the story of the game,” Wynn said. “… At the end of the day, Onyenwere was just too much for us. She just jumped over us, got offensive rebounds or putbacks. I thought we did a great job on their guards. I thought we rattled them in the half court and played well under pressure, all except the second half and third quarter, especially. We made some careless errors. Credit their defense.”
UCLA finished the third quarter with an 8-0 run and a four-point lead. The Bruins made 12 of 22 shots and were a much-improved 54.5% from the field in that span.
UCLA missed 17 of 22 shots (22.7%) and trailed 22-11 after the first quarter, looking rusty after a week off. The Huskies went on an 8-0 run at the end of the first and built an 11-point lead.
NO TIME FOR A SIESTA
UCLA has played extra minutes in each of its last two games. The Bruins lost to the Trojans in double overtime and then won in overtime Friday.
“I’m exhausted,” Close said after the game. “I need a nap.”
There’s little time for that as UCLA has a noon tipoff on Sunday.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
UCLA guard Charisma Osborne had a game-high 12 rebounds. She shot just 2 for 10 from the field, but her eight offensive rebounds were instrumental for UCLA.
WASHINGTON: The Huskies are playing much better on the road in conference this season – winning three of their last five games after going winless in their previous 17, dating to the last two seasons.
UCLA: After winning their first 16 games and setting a school record for victories to start a season, the Bruins have shown there’s plenty of work to do, including finding their collective shot. But, they found a way to win.
WASHINGTON: At USC on Sunday.
UCLA: Hosts Washington State on Sunday.
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