Thursday, February 2

Daily Bruin Sports highlights UCLA’s top moments from 2021-2022

(Lauren Ho/Daily Bruin senior staff. Photo by Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin senior staff)

This post was updated June 5 at 11:00 p.m.

With fans back in the stands, UCLA Athletics had a year full of big moments. From a historic win for UCLA football to a record-setting performance in the circle, Daily Bruin Sports takes a look at the very best moments of the 2021-2022 year in UCLA sports.

Football’s historic win over USC
Jared Tay, Daily Bruin senior staff

(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin senior staff)
UCLA football players gather in celebration after putting up a touchdown against USC in a historic win over their crosstown rivals. (Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson had tried the hurdle before.

The UCLA football senior quarterback had attempted – and failed – to leap over defenders multiple times earlier in the fall. Thompson-Robinson remained undeterred, though. In the Bruins’ biggest game of the year against their crosstown rivals, he tried one more time.

Racing a Trojan defender to the pylon, Thompson-Robinson sprung into the air, vaulting over cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart. He cleared his opponent and landed on both feet in the end zone, just one of his six touchdowns in an eventual 62-33 beatdown of USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Almost everything went the signal-caller’s way that afternoon. Save for the two interceptions he threw on his first two pass attempts, Thompson-Robinson was the focus for all of the offense’s 609 total yards.

It was clear that Thompson-Robinson was basking in it all too. One of his first-half touchdowns came after an option play had him scrambling into the end zone, fleeing the pursuing arms of a Trojan linebacker. He slammed into the padded walls of the stands, and when he looked up, a USC fan held a UCLA hat with a pen for him to sign his autograph.

Thompson-Robinson scribbled his name and was rewarded with a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, but he didn’t seem to care as he was mobbed by his celebrating teammates.

The quarterback’s performance was one for the ages, in a game that featured the Bruins’ largest margin of victory over their crosstown rivals since 1954. The 62 points scored by the blue and gold was the most it had ever scored on USC.

In a season where UCLA football was defined by mediocrity and disappointment, this game defied all expectations. And who doesn’t appreciate a good thrashing of ‘SC?

[Related: UCLA football takes down USC in highest-scoring win of 2021 season]

Women’s soccer wins Pac-12 championship
Jay Fenn, Daily Bruin staff

(David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)
UCLA women’s soccer poses for a photo after winning the Pac-12 championship with a victory over USC – the Bruins’ second straight Pac-12 title. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)

With the opportunity for back-to-back Pac-12 championships and their first undefeated regular season since 2014 on the line, the Bruins took to the field Nov. 5.

The only thing that stood in their way – their crosstown rivals.

UCLA women’s soccer achieved all that it sought to achieve that day, defeating then-No. 8 USC by a score of 3-1 to emerge victorious in the Conference of Champions.

The blue and gold got the scoring started early, with sophomore forward Reilyn Turner finding the back of the net in the 18th minute. Just five minutes later, Turner would flick a pass to graduate student midfielder Olivia Athens – who entered the game with two career goals against the Trojans – who beat the goalkeeper and gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

USC secured a goal of its own in the 78th minute, which was followed shortly thereafter by graduate student midfielder Marley Canales curling the ball into the back of the net directly off a corner kick to put UCLA up 3-1, clinching the victory for the Bruins.

Despite the Bruins suffering a first-round upset loss in the NCAA tournament the following week, Canales, Athens, junior forward Mia Fishel and coach Amanda Cromwell created a moment they will never forget – holding up the Pac-12 trophy for the second straight year in front of 2,237 screaming fans.

[Related: Women’s soccer maintains undefeated run, beats USC to clinch Pac-12 championship]

Men’s basketball takes down Villanova
Jon Christon, Daily Bruin senior staff

(Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin senior staff)
UCLA men’s basketball players celebrate after taking down Villanova on Nov. 12. (Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin senior staff)

I was a UCLA men’s basketball pessimist entering the season.

Sure, the Bruins were coming off a Final Four appearance. But that came during a “Mickey Mouse” year, according to the experts on Twitter. It was questionable if they should have even made the tournament – losing four straight entering the Big Dance – and they probably should have lost in the First Four to Michigan State, a game UCLA trailed by 11 points at halftime.

Given all of this, the blue and gold’s preseason No. 2 ranking confounded me.

Well, UCLA made me look silly after its first true test of the season – a highly billed matchup with No. 4 Villanova.

You could feel the excitement on campus in the days leading up to the contest, and a sea of white filled Pauley Pavilion as the clock ticked closer to gametime. Michael Buffer was there pre-game to rattle off his legendary “Let’s get ready to rumble” and pump up the Bruin faithful. In short, Westwood was rocking in a way it hasn’t in a long, long time.

This all set the stage for one of the biggest statement wins in all of college basketball this season.

After trailing by double digits late in the second half, the Bruins mounted a comeback but still found themselves behind entering the final minute of regulation. That was before senior guard Jules Bernard knocked in a game-tying jumper with 30 seconds on the clock, followed up by a brilliant defensive possession from sophomore guard Jaylen Clark that secured overtime.

From there, the big three of junior guard Johnny Juzang, junior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and redshirt junior guard Tyger Campbell took the Bruins home. The three outscored the Wildcats 15-10 by themselves in the extra period, leading the Bruins to an 86-77 triumph.

The win confirmed that UCLA’s 2021 Final Four was more than just an anomaly, that Juzang could be that guy in a non-bubble setting and that coach Mick Cronin was the right man for the job.

Above all else, that win in November showed the world that college basketball’s most historic program was truly back.

[Related: Men’s basketball triumphs in matchup against No. 4 Villanova in overtime]

Baseball wins 47-run slugfest
Joseph Crosby, assistant Sports editor

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
Members of UCLA baseball exit the field after celebrating a win. The Bruins claimed an extra-innings, walk-off victory over Oregon State to keep their Pac-12 tournament run alive May 28. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

With the winning run on third and no outs in the 10th, redshirt sophomore catcher Tommy Beres had one job: hit the ball deep enough to the outfield to end the game.

But Beres wasn’t going to settle for a sacrifice fly. Instead, he ended the game in style with his first career home run – a walk-off, three-run blast over the left field fence.

Certainly a special moment but not incredibly uncommon – players hit walk-off homers all the time. To fully understand the insanity that occurred May 28, we need to back up a few innings.

At the end of the sixth, UCLA baseball trailed Oregon State 17-10. Down seven runs with three innings to go and elimination from the Pac-12 tournament on the line, the Bruins needed a miracle.

They didn’t do themselves any favors. After allowing four more runs while only scoring two themselves, the Bruins entered the bottom of the ninth down 21-12 with three outs to spare.

That didn’t matter. Somehow, someway, UCLA did the impossible, scoring nine runs to knot the contest at 21 apiece and send it to extra innings.

But once again, they found themselves down after allowing a run in the top of the 10th.

Again, that didn’t matter. When the blue and gold stepped up to bat in the bottom of the 10th, it didn’t even record an out. With the bases loaded, Oregon State balked in the tying run.

Then Beres stepped into the box and recorded his fifth, sixth and seventh RBIs of the day – one more than he had recorded in his entire career up to that point.

Five hours and 44 minutes later, the highest-scoring contest in Division I baseball in 2022 had drawn to a close. With its back against the wall, UCLA tallied 15 runs across the final three frames to tie its season high in runs scored.

There’s only one way to describe that game.

Absolute. Madness.

[Related: UCLA baseball tallies 25 runs in extra-innings comeback triumph over Oregon State]

Women’s basketball triple-overtime tournament win
Gavin Carlson, Daily Bruin staff

(Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
UCLA women’s basketball players cheer on their teammates. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)

Whether it’s in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament or the Final Four, the pressure of an elimination game always persists.

A loss means your season is over, and for the Bruins, it would mean the end of a tumultuous campaign scarred by countless injuries and summarized by the program’s first missed NCAA Tournament since 2015.

And for your exiting seniors especially – in this case UCLA had seven – a loss means your career is over. A career that, for these seniors, included a COVID-19-canceled postseason and multiple end-of-the-year disappointments.

Though it took an extra 15 minutes of heart-racing game time for players and viewers alike, the Bruins delayed the final buzzer of their 2021-2022 season for at least one more game in the WNIT.

In front of the most daunting road atmosphere it had faced all season, UCLA overcame deficits in the closing moments of regulation and the first two overtimes before stealing a thrilling triple-overtime win from Wyoming and its raucous fans.

I’ve never seen a more exciting finish to a basketball game in my 20 years on this planet.

While it was the first triple-overtime game for the Bruins since 2019, and the Cowgirls had just played in a three-OT contest the previous game. Quite the Hollywood script indeed.

After the game, UCLA’s players claimed they never feared the Hollywood ending would turn into a nightmare close to the season, but as a viewer, I certainly did.

To be fair, the Bruins went 0-for-5 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter prior to graduate student guard Natalie Chou’s game-tying 3 that sent the game to overtime. Then they needed a missed Cowgirl free throw and a difficult spinning layup from graduate student forward IImar’I Thomas in the closing seconds to send the game to a second extra period.

The improbable comebacks didn’t stop there, as junior guard Charisma Osborne was fouled on a game-tying three-point attempt with 16 seconds left before making all three free throws to force the third and final overtime period.

Call me crazy, but I thought my time covering the 2021-2022 season had come to an end on three separate occasions. And I know I wasn’t alone.

Instead, the Bruins earned their most exciting win of the season and gave their seniors another career highlight after two calendar years of pandemic-plagued and injury-riddled basketball in Westwood.

Not bad for the third round of the WNIT.

[Related: Women’s basketball defeats Wyoming in triple overtime, advances to quarterfinals]

Jordan Chiles notches first perfect 10
Nico Edgar, Daily Bruin staff

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
UCLA gymnastics freshman Jordan Chiles is overcome with emotion after earning a perfect 10 on floor. (Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Sports can feel like a slog sometimes. That’s why NCAA gymnastics has been such an outlet for me the past two years as a writer. It’s fast-paced, artistic and daring. Each athlete on the team is capable of whipping through the air, doing twisting stunts the layman can only dream of.

When UCLA gymnastics got off to its worst start in recent memory this year – starting with its lowest score in seven years and failing to eclipse a 197 in three consecutive meets – it seemed like the dreadful slog had begun to envelop the team.

Along with the poor start on the competition floor, a freshman had transferred within weeks of joining the program, a senior gymnast had called for the head coach’s firing and the athletes had spoken out about feeling ignored by the athletic department. A season that had begun so hopeful – with the top-ranked recruiting class headlined by Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles – was quickly spiraling into a dumpster fire.

Enter February 4th.

The blue and gold hosted No. 3 Utah in front of a crowd of 6,351 at Pauley Pavilion. Then-No. 22 UCLA went toe-to-toe with the Pac-12 powerhouse and headed into its final rotation with a chance to score a massive upset.

After four floor routines that included two 9.925s, Chiles strutted onto the bouncy blue surface, fluttering her right hand as she took her opening stance.

The freshman opened with a perfect double layout, added in an effortless double back and finished it off with a clean double pike. As her teammates stormed the floor, Chiles struck the signature bodybuilder pose, flexing with all her might before the mob engulfed her.

The score came through – and it was a perfect 10 for Chiles, the first for UCLA in nearly two years.

Chiles dropped to the floor instantly, tears streaming down her face as her team celebrated around her.

It seemed as if all negativity surrounding the team dissipated as Chiles’ success reinvigorated the squad with hope. With one routine, the slog was over and the future was bright.

[Related: UCLA gymnastics sees individual, team successes despite loss to rival Utah]

Megan Faraimo strikes out 15 in perfect game
Diego Farinha, Daily Bruin staff

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
UCLA softball redshirt junior pitcher Megan Faraimo pushes off to deliver a pitch. Faraimo executed a perfect game against CSU Bakersfield on March 11, striking out all 15 batters who stepped up to the plate. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Easton Stadium has a tradition of giving out “strikeout softballs” every time a Bruin pitcher strikes out an opposing batter.

On March 11, a Friday afternoon in which redshirt junior pitcher Megan Faraimo took the circle, she faced 15 batters.

Fifteen balls were tossed into the crowd.

Eight days removed from throwing the second solo perfect game of her career, and one day after contributing to a joint perfect game with graduate student pitcher Lauren Shaw, Faraimo was perfect once more. She tossed five shutout innings, striking out every batter she faced en route to a 14-0 win over CSU Bakersfield for UCLA’s second win of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.

Faraimo needed only 59 total pitches to set down all 15 batters, averaging less than four pitches per Roadrunner and throwing just seven balls on the afternoon.

She began her outing throwing 30 consecutive strikes before missing the strike zone for the first time in the third inning. Of Faraimo’s 15 victims, 13 went down swinging while the other two looked at a called strike three.

Amid a season of three perfect games and five no-hitters for the Bruins, Faraimo accomplished a distinct feat on her way to racking up 252 regular-season strikeouts – 15 of which came against Roadrunners – earning her the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year award.

Kelly Inouye-Perez, head coach of the Bruins since 2007 and on the coaching staff since 1994, said Faraimo’s 15-strikeout perfect game was something she’s never witnessed before.

[Related: Softball’s Megan Faraimo notches 2nd solo perfect game of season in home tourney]

Men’s soccer earns comeback win in NCAA tournament
Nick Darrow, Daily Bruin contributor

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
UCLA men’s soccer celebrates its victory against UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Bruins defeated the Gauchos at home in an overtime contest to notch their first NCAA postseason victory since 2016. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

For the first 55 minutes of the UCLA men’s soccer team’s first-round matchup against UC Santa Barbara, the Bruins looked lost.

They were going to need a Hail Mary to advance to their first second-round appearance since 2016. Senior forward Kevin Diaz provided that miracle.

Over the next 30 minutes, the Bruins got back into the game and put a lot of pressure on the Gauchos. After nine second-half shots since going down 1-0 either missed the target or were saved by Gaucho goalkeeper Leroy Zeller, there was finally a breakthrough.

Entering the 86th minute, freshman defender Pietro Grassi got the ball just inside the 18-yard box. He then looked up and passed the ball to redshirt freshman forward Jose Contell, who put the ball into the back of the net and equalized the score at 1 apiece.

From that point on, it seemed as if the Bruins had gotten new life. The almost 1,400-person crowd at Wallis Annenberg Stadium made sure the blue and gold knew its fans believed in them, with constant “UCLA” chants echoing throughout the stands.

After out-shooting the Gauchos 12-4 in the second half, the Bruins entered a golden goal extra period with a matchup against then-No. 3 Duke on the line. UCLA continued the barrage, and peppered UCSB’s goal for all of extra time.

In the 102nd minute, UCLA’s Diaz came up with a loose ball and put it into the goal for the overtime winner. The team, along with the crowd, went wild as players and fans celebrated the Bruins’ first postseason tournament win under coach Ryan Jorden.

After the celebration died down, the Bruins huddled up and finished the night with a “Family on three: one, two, three!” before facing the Bruin faithful still in attendance, thanking them for the incredible interaction and cheering for all 102 minutes.

[Related: UCLA men’s soccer defeats UC Santa Barbara to advance in NCAA tournament]

Maddie Musselman sets program goal record
Ricardo Garcia, Daily Bruin reporter

(Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)
Redshirt senior attacker Maddie Musselman readies for a pass. Musselman became the program’s all-time leading scorer against UC Irvine on March 11. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

Maddie Musselman has done it all.

The redshirt senior attacker is a two-time Olympian, 10-time gold medalist, three-time All American and four-time MVP of an international tournament, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

On a bright and sunny day at Spieker Aquatics Center against UC Irvine in March, Musselman added yet another accomplishment to her decorated water polo career.

After a rocky offensive start against Irvine, the blue and gold found itself down by multiple goals at the end of the first quarter for only the second time all season. Although the Bruins eventually took the lead at halftime, Musselman was held scoreless through the first half after being shut down by the Anteater defense.

When the clock hit 6:23 in the third quarter, Musselman made her move.

Using three pump fakes, Musselman skipped a shot past Anteater goalkeeper Faith Tedesco and stood alone on top of the mountain.

With her 238th career goal, Musselman etched her name at the top of UCLA’s all-time scoring list, surpassing hall-of-famer Kelly Rulon, whose record stood since the 2007 season.

Musselman would finish her final season in Westwood with 69 goals en route to being named the 2022 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year. She finished her UCLA career with 252 career goals to her name, placing her 10th all-time in MPSF history and cementing her legacy as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

[Related: Maddie Musselman tops women’s water polo program scoring list after UC Irvine game]

Sports senior staff

Tay is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the men's basketball beat. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, men's tennis, cross country and women's tennis beats. Tay was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.

Sports staff

Fenn is currently a Sports staffer on the baseball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat and a contributor on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.

Sports senior staff

Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.

Sports staff

Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.

Sports staff

Edgar is currently a Sports staffer on the gymnastics beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.

Sports staff

Farinha is currently a Sports staffer on the softball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's soccer beat.

Sports reporter

Darrow is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. He was previously a contributor on the women's tennis, men's volleyball and men's soccer beats.


Sports reporter

Garcia is currently a reporter on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the swim & dive, track & field and men's water polo beats.

Assistant Sports editor

Crosby is a 2022-2023 assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. He was previously a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a third-year statistics student.

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