AUSTIN, Texas – Michaela Onyenwere scored 25 points and third-seeded UCLA was never threatened en route to a 69-48 victory over Wyoming in the opening round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Monday night.
Onyenwere, a 6-foot senior, converted 9 of 17 shots from the field. She is averaging more than 24 points in her last five games, five more than her mark for the season.
Wyoming coach Gerald Mattinson said no approach to guarding Onyenwere worked.
“We tried a lot of things,” Mattinson said. “She had an answer, they had an answer for everything we tried.”
Onyenwere has a big fan in teammate Natalie Chou, a senior who played for Baylor for two seasons before transferring to UCLA.
“Her athleticism is just amazing,” Chou said. “I’ve never met anyone as athletic as her, as consistent as her. Every day, I’m amazed at what she can do.”
Charisma Osborne added 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Chou also scored 15.
Alba Sanchez Ramos led Wyoming with 15 points and 10 rebounds. McKinley Bradshaw scored 13.
Neither team has a starter taller than 6-1, but UCLA (17-5) has more height and dominated in the paint, outscoring Wyoming 34-20.
Wyoming (14-10) often is the more physically imposing team in its games. Not this time.
“We haven’t seen anything like that,” Mattinson said. “We can’t simulate that in practice.”
Onyenwere scored 15 points – 11 in the first quarter – while helping stake the Bruins to a 40-26 lead at the break.
She used her strength to score inside, made mid-range turnaround jump shots and also hit a 3-pointer.
UCLA has won nine straight NCAA Tournament first-round games, the last six under coach Cori Close. The smallest margin of victory during her tenure was 11 points against American in 2018. Next the Bruins will attempt to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fifth straight time.
MAKING HER WORK
Wyoming’s Quinn Weidemann was named Most Valuable Player of the Mountain West Tournament after averaging 13.5 points and hitting 12 of 22 3-point shots. She helped the Cowgirls win the tournament after they finished seventh during the regular season at 8-8.
Weidemann scored 11 points against the Bruins on 4-for-16 shooting. She went 1 for 6 from 3-point range.
UCLA used pressure defense, often full court, to stop Weidemann and the other Cowgirls.
“It was really important to use that pressure to get them out of rhythm at the start,” Close said.
UCLA will face No. 6 seed Texas on Wednesday. The Longhorns defeated Bradley 81-62 on Monday.