By Beth Harris
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Cori Close didn’t ask her UCLA players to do a bunch of new things against Oklahoma. She just challenged them to do one thing to try and win each possession.
The Bruins did enough, especially on the boards, to upset the 10th-ranked Sooners 82-76 Sunday for their first win over a ranked opponent in three tries this season.
“We focused on our defense and we just got more possessions,” Close said. “We didn’t worry about whether they were going perfectly and eventually our offense came.”
Atonye Nyingifa had career highs of 28 points and 16 rebounds, Nirra Fields added a career-best 17 points for the Bruins (2-2), who earlier lost to ranked Nebraska and North Carolina.
“That was the first time we played exactly to the scouting report,” Fields said.
The Bruins got rebounds from seven of their eight players in dominating the boards, 49-29, including a 20-5 edge on the offensive glass. Fields had nine rebounds and Luiana Livulo had eight before fouling out.
“We worked on it in practice, our team was really aggressive,” said Nyingifa, a sixth-year senior. “Those second opportunities really kept us in the game and kept our momentum going.”
Nicole Griffin scored 19 points for the Sooners (4-2), who ended UCLA’s postseason hopes last spring with an 85-72 victory in the NCAA tournament.
Sharene Campbell added 13 points and Kaylon Williams 12 before both fouled out in the team’s first road game. The Sooners were in foul trouble much of the second half, when Gioya Carter also fouled out and two others had three fouls apiece.
The Sooners got outrebounded for the third straight game.
“That’s the one thing that was just abysmal,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “We made number eleven look like an All-American. At some point, you got to want the ball as much as the other team.”
The final margin represented the largest lead by either team in the half.
Griffin scored inside to draw the Sooners to 77-76 with 1 minute left. Morgan Hook missed a game-tying layup with 17 seconds to go and Aaryn Ellenberg, who scored 11 points on 2 of 13 shooting, also missed in the closing seconds.
“I decided she’s going to have to beat me off the dribble,” said Fields, who held Oklahoma’s leading scorer 10 points under her 21-point average.
Ellenberg said, “We can’t come into places like this and lay eggs. We should really beat people. We should have won that game easily.”
The Bruins preserved the upset at the line, where they made 11 of 14 over the final 4:45, but were just 23 of 36 for the game.
Madeline Brooks, a seldom-used junior inserted because of foul trouble, got fouled and made both free throws, and Fields made a pair to close out the win.
“I knew she was going to make the shots,” Fields said. “She worked on it in practice and the time came and she pulled through.”
Oklahoma led 69-64 when UCLA ran off nine unanswered points, including five by Fields, to take the lead for good, 73-69.
The Sooners lost Nicole Kornet to a knee injury in the first half.
The Sooners controlled the early part of the game, shooting 61 percent on their way to taking a 30-16 lead that included three consecutive 3-pointers.
The Bruins turned things around over the final 9 1⁄2 minutes of the half, outscoring Oklahoma 27-13 to go into halftime tied 43-all. Nyingifa scored 14 points, highlighted by grabbing her own offensive rebound and laying it in. Two possessions earlier, Lauren Holiday stole the ball and fed Thea Lemberger, who missed, before Holiday cleaned it up to complete a spurt of eight straight points.
“I tried to use my speed and tried to play taller than I am,” the 5-foot-11 Nyingifa said. “Just swarming around or getting a step on them. It’s strategy and quickness.”
Holiday, who had never attempted a 3-pointer in her two-year career, made two in the first half. She broke her nose with 8:25 left in the game.
Oklahoma donated 100 pairs to UCLA’s shoe drive before the game.
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