February 25, 2024

At some point soon, valiant showings against quality competition in tough environments aren’t going to be enough.

UCLA arrived here needing not just a quality effort but a victory. Near upsets against Marquette and Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational that might have boosted spirits did little for the Bruins’ early NCAA tournament resume with only a handful of major-conference opponents remaining before the start of Pac-12 play.

Even after falling out of the national rankings during a recent three-game losing streak, Villanova still represented a chance for UCLA to notch a quality road victory.

The Bruins couldn’t get it, unraveling in the final minutes of a 65-56 loss to the Wildcats on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was another opportunity lost, especially after UCLA (5-3) held a 45-41 lead with 8:24 left after sophomore Adem Bona drove for a layup and was fouled, making the free throw he was awarded.

Villanova rallied amid a flurry of three-pointers, starting with one from Hakim Hart in the corner after the Wildcats (7-4) rebounded a missed free throw.

Seeking a spark with the score tied and 6½ minutes left, UCLA went back to a 2-3 zone that had been effective in the first half. It initially seemed to befuddle Villanova before Brendan Hauser rose for a three-pointer over Jan Vide with the shot clock about to expire. Swish.

Then the Bruins’ struggling offense continued to sputter. Lazar Stefanovic missed another shot on a dreadfully cold night for the junior guard and Sebastian Mack couldn’t handle some pressure, losing the ball out of bounds for a turnover.

When Hauser buried another three-pointer, the Wildcats were suddenly up 52-45 with 4:38 left and the Bruins needed a quick answer that was not forthcoming. UCLA repeatedly hurt itself with turnovers, wild shots and a lane violation that gave Villanova an extra point, the Wildcats ending the game on a 24-11 run.

Stefanovic (14 points on five-for-19 shooting) and Bona (11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks before fouling out) were the only Bruins to reach double figures in scoring, illustrating this team’s epic offensive struggles on a night UCLA shot 36.7%.

UCLA knew winning here was going to be tough. What would it take?

“It’s going to take everything,” Bona said earlier in the week. “A whole lot of effort, concentration, guys doing what they need to do — fighting, battling, giving everything we got.”

A good starting point would be a heavy reduction in Bona’s number of fouls. Entering Saturday, Bona had logged at least four fouls in three of the previous four games, the low point coming when he fouled out in only 14 minutes against UC Riverside.

“That stuff has to stop,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said earlier in the week. “So before you learn how to win, you’ve got to learn how to not lose. So this goes to the old adage of in baseball, you get ahead of the hitter, you don’t walk with runners on base, so you make teams beat you by not giving away baskets and you’ve got to keep your best players on the floor.”

Cronin also outlined a plan for what it would take to win on the road — ”pack your toughness,” avoid turnovers and don’t expect to win with jump shots. The Bruins also had to persevere without freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel, who was out with the ankle injury he sustained last week against UC Riverside.

UCLA built a 29-25 halftime lead on the strength of two 10-0 runs featuring some strong three-point shooting. Will McClendon and Dylan Andrews combined to make four of six shots from beyond the arc and the Bruins befuddled the Wildcats with strong defense that included some rare 2-3 zone usage from Cronin.

It was such ugly basketball with eight minutes left in the first half that Villanova was shooting 22.2% … and held a one-point lead on the strength of making one more three-pointer and two more free throws than UCLA. But the Bruins surged ahead after making five of 10 three-pointers by the game’s midpoint.

The good times would not last.

Bingo Blitz Credits Farming Strategies: Success Tips
Coin Master Spins Farming Strategies: Insights from Pros
genshin impact redeem codes january 2023 mobile matters
Get Free Zems on ZEPETO: Tips and Tricks
match masters arena 7 funny game like paper clash royale what
TikTok Coin Generator Safety Tips
Unlimited Gems in Brawl Stars: Myth or Reality?
new cheats dragon city free gems mod generator freemind
free family island hack cheats unlimited rubies and energy
how to get diamonds in hay day tips tricks youtube
tutorial how i get unlimited diamonds in litmatch app youtube
myths of moonrise codes september 2022 g7r
Boost Your TikTok Influence with Free Coins
Unlocking TikTok Coins: Insider Techniques
Comment obtenir légalement et rapidement des pièces gratuites sur TikTok
Maximiza tus Ganancias de Monedas TikTok con Estos Consejos
Coin Master Free Spin Generators: Fact or Fiction?
Insights from Pros: Coin Master Free Spins Farming Strategies
Avakin Life Avacoins Farming Demystified

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *