LOS ANGELES — It's been a tough February so far for the UCLA Bruins. They suffered a 20-point loss at No. 4 Stanford and were without center Lauren Betts, as well as two other players.
“We need to get our family back whole,” coach Cori Close said Sunday.
Betts scored 18 points on 9 of 10 shooting in her second game back and the ninth-ranked Bruins used a big third quarter to pull away from Arizona State, winning 78-45 for a weekend sweep.
The Bruins (19-4, 8-4 Pac-12) got 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists from Charisma Osborne. Kiki Rice added 12 points and eight rebounds.
As the tallest player on the court, the 6-foot-7 Betts was too much down low for the Sun Devils. She missed four games because of an undisclosed medical reason and the team went 2-2 in her absence.
Leading by nine at halftime, the Bruins outscored the Sun Devils 23-12 in the third for a 51-31 lead. Betts had 10 points with her teammates feeding her in the post for layups. Twice, UCLA scored eight points in a row.
“Reality for us is we needed to get back together and find a way to be champions of the weekend. It was really important to put two games together that we had better rebounding and passion,” Close said. “That was our number one focus, to get back some fight. We made some good steps.”
Betts also had seven rebounds before picking up her third foul and sitting down for good with 7:12 remaining. She didn't attempt a 3-pointer and never went to the free throw line.
“Your stats were great but your energy is better,” Close told Betts afterward. “It’s really great to have you back.”
UCLA beat Arizona 66-58 on Friday. Betts didn’t start and finished with six points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
“I felt a lot better today than I did Friday,” she said. “A week of practice is really helpful, just being with the team and just getting that chemistry back with all of my teammates.”
The Bruins didn't have Angela Dugalic (Serbia) and Lina Sontag (Germany), who were competing in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Brazil this weekend.
Jalyn Brown scored 25 points to lead the Sun Devils (10-14, 2-10), who are last in the Pac-12. They've lost 10 of 12. Starters Trayanna Crisp had two points on free throws and Journey Thompson was scoreless with nine rebounds.
UCLA won its 15th straight against ASU after holding the Sun Devils to three field goals in the fourth. They went 8 of 13 from the free-throw line in the period.
“We realized we needed to use this opportunity to work on our habits and get ready for the postseason,” Rice said. “We responded well to that challenge.”
The Bruins pulled away to a 28-19 halftime lead after a 9-0 run late in the second quarter. Both teams had six turnovers each in the period. Camryn Brown came off the UCLA bench to provide a big spark, hustling for rebounds and altering shots.
UCLA's Christeen Iwuala, who finished with 10 points, went down hard and held her left elbow when she left in the game's final second.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils played the ranked LA schools tough for stretches, but could not come away with a third league victory. They lost 81-63 at USC on Friday.
UCLA: The Bruins are entering a tough stretch, with three ranked schools among their six remaining regular season opponents. Two of those games, against No. 20 Utah and No. 4 Colorado, are at home. No. 17 Oregon State and Colorado are among the three teams ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 standings. “Oregon State is the hottest team in the conference,” Close said. “It’s an opportunity.”
Arizona State: Hosts Washington on Friday.
UCLA: Visits Oregon State on Friday.