Kiki Rice starred in her college debut with 12 points and seven assists as UCLA defeated Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 84-48 on Monday at Pauley Pavilion.
The freshman started at point guard and assisted on 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, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, the Bruins (1-0) built a 30-point lead by the third quarter of the blowout.
The top-ranked recruiting class that includes Rice and fellow McDonald’s All-American Gabriela Jaquez has the Bruins poised for a quick bounce-back season after going 8-13 last year and missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. Jaquez, playing in front of a large family contingent that stayed through a doubleheader to cheer older brother Jaime Jaquez Jr. against Sacramento State, had 10 points and six rebounds.
“You see glimpses … with all of our freshmen, man, they’re going to be good,” coach Cori Close said. “We need to be able to play with a little more purpose and teamwork on the floor, but I wouldn’t have a lot of hope to do that if I didn’t see great competitive natures, great work ethic and really wanting to play hard out there for each other.”
Though Rice established herself as a floor general in the first quarter, she flashed her all-around game by breaking out for eight points on three-for-three shooting in the second quarter. The Bethesda, Md., native admitted to early nerves, but gained confidence through her teammates’ early success.
“To see my teammates get going and for everyone to settle into the game, it helped me focus on, OK, now it’s my turn to get going,” said Rice, who made five of her eight shot attempts.
Rice played a team-high 29 minutes as the Bruins were without grad transfer point guard Gina Conti because of 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 missed last season with a torn ACL, returned to the court and had 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.