The Bruins will be without one of their breakout role players from a season ago.

UCLA women’s basketball forward Emily Bessoir announced via Instagram on Friday that she had torn her ACL and will have to sit out the entire 2021-2022 season. The injury occurred earlier this week during practice.

The 6-foot-4 post player had been a large part of last season’s team, which found itself short on depth because of COVID-19 opt-outs and regulations that kept international players from joining the team.

“It hurts my heart and I wish I didn’t need to say this, but I tore my ACL and will be sitting out this season,” Bessoir said. “Although I’m not going to be on the court physically, know that I’m still there, cheering on and supporting my rockstar teammates.”

In her freshman campaign, Bessoir played in 22 games, making two starts and averaging 20.7 minutes, 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

This summer, Bessoir played with Germany at the FIBA U20 Women’s European Challengers, where she played in five games and averaged 34.4 minutes, 16.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 36% from the field. Bessoir led the tournament with 13.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

The high point total in the tournament across Europe showed her growth, and her further improvements could have pushed Bessoir into the Bruins’ starting lineup.

“My heart breaks for Emily because she was the fittest I’ve ever seen her,” said coach Cori Close in a statement released to the team. “She had grown into a really substantial leadership role and I thought she was ready to take a huge step forward. That being said, she wouldn’t want us to swim laps in the pity pond. She would want us to move forward and honor the work that she had put in, by becoming a championship-level team with championship-level habits.”

Now that Bessoir will watch from the sidelines in 2021-2022, both 6-foot-4 sophomore forwards Izzy Anstey and Angela Dugalić will likely play the majority post minutes in their first years as members of the Bruins squad. Close could also go with smaller guard-focused lineups early in the season as well.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have now faced a season-ending preseason injury, as freshman guard Will McClendon also tore his ACL in September.

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