Guard Sharane Campbell's layup off a full court assist by point guard Morgan Hook allowed the Sooners to close within the single possession, but then a costly foul by guard Jasmine Hartman enabled the Bruins to unorthodoxly squeak it out at the free throw line.
The Sooners scored once more on Hook's layup but could never draw closer than three again down the stretch.
While poor free throw shooting was one of the major stories--OU managed just 19-for-31 or 61.3 percent--rebounding proved to be the biggest key.
Any time the Sooners needed one, they couldn't get it.
In fact, the Bruins dominated the glass 56-34 with 24 offensive rebounds; OU only came up with eight.
"I felt like it was not responding to the physical play," said OU head coach Sherri Coale.
At times it really seemed like the Bruins were simply outworking the Sooners on the glass and all over the court, for that matter.
"I'm disappointed with our effort and our response to the physical play," Coale said. "If that's the way they're going to play then we have to adjust to it, and we have to fight back and be just as physical as they're being. I didn't think we responded in the right way."
The Sooners were mainly in it thanks to the shooting of guard Aaryn Ellenberg, who poured in 20 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first half.
She finished with a game-high 24.
"I don't really know the exact words for it," Ellenberg said. "When we're out running and I get the ball, I'm going to try to shoot it. I was making them and just feeling good, I guess."
Guard Whitney Hand, one of three other Sooners in double figures, finished with 19 on 7-for-11 field goal shooting.
Campbell and center Nicole Griffin each added 12 for the Sooners.
Four Bruins ended up in doubles, with guard Thea Lemberger leading the way with her 18 on 7-for-12 from the field.
UCLA barely outshot the Sooners 43.8 to 43.1 percent, but managed 23 second chance points thanks to their massive offensive rebounding advantage and had a 46-24 advantage in the paint.
"As a team, we didn't get ourselves ready for that, and that's on us," Hand said. "We were just soft. We've played teams before like Texas A&M who are 20 times more physical than they are. We just didn't respond well."
The Sooners will look to respond off the loss when they get back to action at 2 pm. Sunday at Lloyd Noble Center against Saint Louis.