UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. handles the ball towards Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis (10) through the Pac-12 championship recreation. Jaquez had 13 factors however shot 5 for 18 from the sector within the Bruins’ 61-59 loss. (Chase Stevens / Associated Press)
UCLA didn’t come right here to simply give it a superb attempt.
Their greatest defender again residence, their prime massive man watching in a sweatsuit, the Bruins didn’t again down Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena whereas severely undermanned in a heavyweight title struggle.
They simply lastly ran out of counterpunches within the Pac-12 event championship.
A wild recreation got here right down to a mad scramble of a end. Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis pushed his staff right into a two-point lead by making the primary of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left earlier than lacking the second.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. grabbed the rebound and dribbled frantically downcourt earlier than passing to freshman guard Dylan Andrews on the wing. Andrews rose for a three-pointer that caromed off the facet of the rim on the buzzer, preserving the second-seeded Wildcats’ 61-59 victory over the top-seeded Bruins, whose 12-game successful streak got here to an finish.
“Wide-open shot to win the sport,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin mentioned afterward. “It is what it’s.”
UCLA’s Amari Bailey controls the ball below strain from Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, second from proper, and Kerr Kriisa (25) on Saturday evening. (Chase Stevens / Associated Press)
Eighth-ranked Arizona’s gamers lingered to have a good time their second consecutive title-game overcome UCLA (29-5), whereas the No. 2 Bruins contemplated the place they is perhaps seeded within the NCAA event.
Even massively short-handed, the Bruins had each alternative to drag this one off.
Given an opportunity to tie the rating with 6.8 seconds left, Bruins level guard Tyger Campbell, an 84.9% free-throw shooter who had been so clutch all week, missed the second of two free throws, the ball rolling across the rim earlier than coming off. Cronin mentioned Campbell was unnecessarily mad at himself afterward.
“I might put my profession on the road,” Cronin mentioned, “with Tyger on the line.”
Another alternative had been misplaced for UCLA after Jaquez knocked the ball away from Tubelis with 1:10 left for a steal and the Bruins holding a one-point lead. But after the Bruins referred to as a timeout, Jaquez missed a brief jumper.
“I had numerous nice appears,” mentioned Jaquez, who scored 13 factors on five-for-18 capturing, “I simply missed.”
The Wildcats missed their subsequent shot however Tubelis snagged an offensive rebound and located Courtney Ramey for a three-pointer that pushed Arizona right into a 60-58 lead with 18 seconds left. Cronin advised that Ramey had pushed off on Will McClendon earlier than the shot, certainly one of two calls that irritated Cronin.
The different name got here within the first half when Jaquez handed to a slicing Amari Bailey, who threw down a vicious, one-handed dunk over Arizona’s Pelle Larsson. The whistle blew. Bruins followers roared, presuming it was an opportunity for a three-point play.
Nope. The official motioned along with his arm to sign that Bailey had pushed off. Offensive foul. Cronin and the Bruins followers have been furious.
“An offensive foul referred to as on a man who had the perfect dunk of the season,” Cronin mentioned incredulously.
It one way or the other bought worse. On the Wildcats’ subsequent possession, Larsson threw down his personal one-handed dunk, prompting an Arizona fan sitting courtside to yell, “That’s the way you do it!”
Bruised however not damaged, the Bruins stored combating again. They took a nine-point lead early within the second half earlier than it regarded like they could run out of magic. Shots stopped falling. Fouls piled up.
With freshman heart Adem Bona watching after injuring his left shoulder Friday, the Bruins ran out of massive males within the remaining minutes. Backup Mac Etienne fouled out with 9:35 left and Kenneth Nwuba adopted with 4 minutes to go.
Tubelis scored 19 for the Wildcats (28-6), and Bailey had 19 to steer the Bruins.
This was purported to be an opportunity to unravel the debates, reply the questions, finish any lingering doubts.
These groups had met twice this season, every successful as soon as. The respective fan bases had made their instances for superiority. UCLA was the harder, extra full staff. Arizona possessed the larger entrance line and a mightier offense.
The Bruins had gained the Pac-12 title in a four-game runaway, thumping the Wildcats simply final week. But any cheap calculus of the Bruins had modified significantly over the past week.
Junior guard Jaylen Clark was out with a lower-leg harm. Bona, a shot-blocking menace, was remodeled right into a cheerleader by the shoulder soreness that’s not anticipated to maintain him out previous Saturday.
The Bruins withstood all of it as a part of a stirring Pac-12 event run that was the stuff of Disney, pulling away from Colorado earlier than blitzing Oregon behind a Campbell barrage. But this problem was on one other degree, like going from scaling the Santa Monica Mountains to Mount Everest.
UCLA made it a lot of the means however couldn’t attain the summit.
This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.