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‘Rock star’ Kiki Rice powers UCLA to its first-ever win over UConn

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Kiki Rice of the UCLA Bruins high-fives fans as she takes the court ahead of a game against the Bellarmine Knights at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on November 12, 2023. (Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

No. 2 UCLA basketball remains undefeated this season, in no small part due to Kiki Rice’s contributions against No. 6 UConn. 

The sophomore guard dropped 24 points en route to her program’s first-ever win against the Huskies. She also grabbed 11 rebounds and eight assists. She led her squad to its fifth win of the season in its toughest match so far, 78-67. 

“We wanted her to come out with an attack mentality,” UCLA head coach Cori Close said to Michael Voepel. “She has put so much work in. She’s just been a rock star for us.” 

Charisma Osborne and Lauren Betts also showed out at  the Cayman Islands Classic with 18 and 13 points, respectively. 

“We really were confident that if we executed the game plan, that we were going to win,” Close said to the Associated Press. “I say that with great respect (for UConn) but I really believe in what this team is building.”

Paige Bueckers had a standout night for the Huskies, leading all scorers with her 31 points — almost half of UConn’s total. But no one else on the team scored more than 11 points. And head coach Geno Auriemma does not believe that is enough to win games. 

“You can’t beat a really good team with one player,” Auriemma said. “It was disappointing that we didn’t get more contributions from more people. Our combinations are all screwed up right now, so that’s got to get sorted out.. We struggled, we had our runs, we just didn’t have enough.”