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NCAAW Preview: Can No. 6 UCLA hand No. 5 Stanford a second-straight loss in this battle of Pac-12 foes?

The No. 5 Stanford Cardinal and No. 6 UCLA Bruins are each coming off overtime games. UCLA survived a scare against Washington State, but previously-undefeated Stanford lost its first game this season to Colorado. Expect another close one in this Friday night showdown.

UCLA v Oregon
Charisma Osborne leads a UCLA fastbreak. Can she also lead the No. 6 Bruins past the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal?
Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

Friday night brings a Top-10 Pac-12 showdown in Santa Cruz.

The No. 6 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12) travel north to meet the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) at 10:00 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks).

On Sunday, the Bruins escaped with an overtime win over the then-No. 25 Washington State Cougars, 68-66. Sophomore guard Charisma Osborne was clutch down the stretch, scoring eight of UCLA’s last 10 points and 28 points overall.

Super senior forward Michaela Onyenwere had a double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds.

The Cardinal, however, were not so fortunate in their Sunday matchup.

The nation’s then-No. 1 team dropped their first game of the season in overtime to the Colorado Buffaloes, 77-72. Although head coach Tara VanDerveer bemoaned her squad’s defensive effort, Stanford’s 72 points were 10 points below their season average of 82.8 points per game. Haley Jones continued her superb sophomore season with 16 points, but senior guard Kiana Williams struggled offensively, shooting three of 12 from the field and scoring only nine points.

But high-scoring Stanford has shown they can win a low-scoring, defensive game — they did so in their Dec. 21 win over UCLA, 61-49. In particular, the Cardinal out-battled the Bruins on the boards, grabbing 14 more rebounds for 51 total boards. Haley Jones had a season-high 15 rebounds while freshman forward Cameron Brink and junior guard Lexie Hull grabbed nine boards each.

For UCLA to reverse the December result, it must address this rebounding deficit and increase its offensive consistency, especially in crunch time.

Osborne, performing as she did this past Sunday, would go a long way toward helping the Bruins give the Cardinal back-to-back losses. Since scoring only seven points against Stanford, Osborne has scored 20 points or more in three consecutive games. Improved shooting from 3-point range has helped to supercharge her scoring: Osborne shot 50 percent from behind the arc in UCLA’s wins over Oregon, Utah and Washington State.

Game Information

No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12)

When: Friday, Jan. 22, at 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, CA

How to watch: Pac-12 Networks

What to watch for: Somewhat curiously, UCLA won the turnover battle in their Dec. 21 loss to Stanford. The Bruins had nine turnovers to the Cardinal’s 16. UCLA also snagged 10 steals, five more than the Stanford. If the Cardinal are again so careless with the ball, the Bruins need to cash in. Likewise, the Cardinal must take better care of the basketball. In their loss to Colorado, they coughed up the ball 15 times. Overall, Stanford is averaging 13 turnovers per game; UCLA averages 11.3.