April 24, 2024

It came down to three-point shooting.

Once again, UCLA didn’t have any.

In one of the season’s most bothersome storylines for a young team trying to find its footing, the Bruins continued to watch with envy as the other team made long-range shots that UCLA could not counter.

The sequence that symbolized Oregon’s 64-59 victory Saturday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena came with a little more than four minutes left.

Inbounding with six seconds left on the shot clock, the Ducks got the ball to Jackson Shelstad about 35 feet from the basket. Shelstad rose for an NBA-range three-pointer that fell through the net.

UCLA had no such luck, making just three of 19 shots from beyond the arc (15.8%) on a day the Ducks made 10 of 25 three-pointers (40%).

Even so, the Bruins had a chance after Dylan Andrews made a jumper with 32 seconds left to pull UCLA within 60-59. The Ducks beat the Bruins’ press, finding Kwame Evans Jr. underneath the basket for a dunk, putting UCLA in need of a three-pointer to tie the score.

Andrews rose from straightaway beyond the arc, his shot going off the side of the rim with 15 seconds left. The Ducks (10-3, 2-0 Pac-12) grabbed the rebound and made enough free throws the rest of the way.

Oregon forward Mahamadou Diawara, left, and UCLA guard Brandon Williams, right, battle for the ball.

Oregon forward Mahamadou Diawara, left, and UCLA guard Brandon Williams, right, battle for the ball in the first half Saturday.

(Amanda Loman / Associated Press)

In his second consecutive strong showing, Adem Bona finished with 15 points on six-for-seven shooting to go with 11 rebounds and five blocks. Shelstad led Oregon with 20 points, making four of seven three-pointers.

The Bruins (6-7, 1-1) found themselves teetering midway through the second half after Oregon rolled off a 14-2 run in which UCLA made just one of 11 shots — including a maddening possession in which three offensive rebounds yielded no points — and fell behind, 51-44.

A brief spark was found when Bruins freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel followed a corner three-pointer with a driving layup, but Oregon’s Jadrian Tracey countered with a three-pointer and the Ducks’ lead was back to five.

In what might have been his best half of the season given the strength of the competition, Bona was a scoring and rebounding force. Playing much more under control recently, Bona repeatedly scored on layups on the way to getting seven points and seven rebounds by the game’s midpoint.

Bona’s strong across-the-board showing kept the Bruins within 33-31 at halftime after UCLA freshman guard Sebastian Mack buried a jumper with three seconds left.

UCLA freshman forward Brandon Williams continued to make a case for a bigger role, grabbing two offensive rebounds in the first half while also sinking a baseline jumper and effectively feeding Bona in the post.

The Ducks were without centers N’Faly Dante (knee) and Nate Bittle (wrist) and forward Mookie Cook (ankle), presenting the Bruins with an opportunity to forge an advantage with their big men. UCLA grabbed five more rebounds than Oregon in the first half and outscored the Ducks by two in the paint even with 7-foot-3 freshman center Aday Mara not playing while at least momentarily falling out of the rotation.

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