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UCLA's Alyssia Brewer says going to Ohio was good luck for Bruins

March 24, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • UCLA's Alyssia Brewer drives against Washington's Talia Walton during a Pac-12 game this season.
UCLA's Alyssia Brewer drives against Washington's Talia Walton… (Elaine Thompson / Associated…)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- UCLA redshirt senior forward Alyssia Brewer was the happiest of all the happy Bruins when the third-seeded women's basketball team was sent to play their first two NCAA tournament games at St. John Arena.

After defeating Stetson, 66-49, on Saturday in the first round, UCLA will play sixth-seeded Oklahoma at 4:15 p.m. Pacific time Monday.

On Friday, when UCLA had its first practice here Brewer, who is UCLA's second-leading scorer (11. 1 points per game) and leading rebounder (7.8 per game), missed most of the session. She drove two and a half hours south to Cincinnati to visit her cousin, Keiyana Cheatham, 18, who lives in Oklahoma but is in a Cincinnati hospital being treated for HLH, a rare blood disorder.

"She's been sick since November and came to Cincinnati because that's where they know how to treat what she has," Brewer said. "When she got sick hers was only the fifth case ever documented in the state of Oklahoma," Brewer said.

Brewer said she felt "the hand of God was with us" when it was announced UCLA would be traveling to Ohio. And she also said that up until Friday, the day she went to visit her cousin, there had been a list of only four people allowed to see Cheatham because of the prevalence of flu in the area.

"On Friday," she said, "that list went away. Otherwise I couldn't see her."

Brewer, who declined to talk about her cousin's prognosis, Brewer said Cheatham is musical more than athletic and hopes eventually to go to college to learn more about computer technology.

And, Brewer said, she prays that her cousin can be released from the hospital and go back home to Oklahoma. "She couldn't talk to me," Brewer said, "but I know that's what she wants."

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