Kiki Rice shines in collegiate debut as UCLA defeats Cal Poly

Kiki Rice was playing with 12 points and seven assists in her collegiate debut as UCLA defeated Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 84-48 Monday at the Pauley Pavilion.

The freshman started at point guard and helped four of UCLA’s first six made baskets, quickly proving why she was named the No. 2 recruit in the country. With senior guard Charisma Osborne having 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, the Bruins (1-0) built a 30-point lead by the third quarter of the blowout.

The senior recruiting class, which includes Rice and fellow McDonald’s All-American Gabriela Jaquez, has the Bruins poised for a quick catch-up season after winning 8-13 last year and winning the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015 had missed. Jaquez, playing in front of a large family contingent staying through a doubleheader to cheer on older brother Jaime Jaquez Jr. against Sacramento State, had 10 points and six rebounds.

“You’re seeing glimpses… with all our newcomers, man, they’re going to be good,” said coach Cori Close. “We need to be able to play on the floor with a little more determination and teamwork, but I wouldn’t have much hope of doing that if I didn’t see great competitive natures, a great work ethic and a real will to play hard for each other out there.”

Though Rice established herself as the floor general in the first quarter, she showed off her all-around game by taking eight points in three-for-three shooting in the second quarter. The Bethesda, Md. native admitted to being nervous early on but gained confidence from the early success of her teammates.

“Seeing my teammates get going and everyone getting settled into the game helped me focus on, OK, my turn now,” said Rice, who made five of her eight shot attempts.

Rice played a team-high for 29 minutes as the Bruins were without grade transfer point guard Gina Conti due to an undisclosed injury. Conti, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, is expected to return soon, Close said. Forward Emily Bessoir, who was out last season with a cruciate ligament rupture, returned to the field and had 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Kiki Rice shines in collegiate debut as UCLA defeats Cal Poly

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