April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

First-place UCLA rallies to defeat last-place Washington

In a battle of the Pac-12 Conference’s first- and last-place teams, UCLA looked like the winless bunch in the opening half Saturday.

The Bruins couldn’t make shots or do much of anything on defense against Washington while falling behind and facing their biggest halftime deficit of the season.

UCLA fought back from the 10-point hole and looked like it would win comfortably when Jaime Jaquez Jr. drove from the corner for a two-handed dunk that gave the Bruins a seven-point lead with less than two minutes left.

But it took a defensive stop in the final seconds, Jaylen Clark contesting Erik Stevenson’s three-pointer that could have tied the score bouncing off the back of the rim and leading to UCLA’s 81-76 victory over the Huskies at Pauley Pavilion.

Jules Bernard scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half to spark the Bruins (11-2, 7-0 Pac-12), who have won six consecutive games overall and are off to their best start in conference play since they also won their first seven games to start the 1993-94 season.

UCLA fought back to forge a tie by scoring the first 10 points of the second half, Jaquez providing a metaphor for what was going to come when he ripped the ball away from Quade Green on Washington’s first possession.

Fueled in large part by three three-pointers by Bernard, the Bruins looked as if they might be on the way to a runaway when they took a 61-54 lead on Jaquez’s breakaway dunk. But the Huskies (1-11, 0-7), who had not won since beating Seattle on Dec. 9, got four consecutive points to make it 77-74 and got the ball back after Bernard missed a jumper.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin then inserted Clark for his defensive prowess, and the move paid off when he got within bad-breath distance of Stevenson, the Huskies’ top three-point shooter. Stevenson’s shot was off the mark, and Clark was fouled after grabbing the rebound.

The Bruins made enough free throws the rest of the way to hold on in another tight game.

The efficient offense and high-level shot-making that had led to a 30-point rout of Washington State just two days earlier was missing in the first half against the Huskies.

UCLA fell behind by eight points in the opening minutes and made just two of its first 11 shots. Stevenson gave the Huskies an 18-9 lead after making corner three-pointers on consecutive possessions. The Bruins fought back with a 13-2 surge, Tyger Campbell’s three-pointer on a Cody Riley pass out of the post putting UCLA ahead, 22-20.

The rest of the first half was all Huskies.

Washington commenced a 19-7 run to take a 39-29 halftime lead that represented the Bruins’ biggest halftime deficit of the season. The shooting stats told the story, with the Huskies making 53% of their shots to the Bruins’ 31%.