When the Bruins went down by 15, I turned to my dad and said, "at least we have one good basketball team." He thought I was talking about the Lakers, but boy was he wrong because apparently UCLA has a basketball team that can find a way to get it done late. UCLA trailed throughout the game and not only were losing, they looked like the far inferior team for the duration, but some great offensive play by two seniors, Michael Roll and Nikola Dragovic, led the Bruins back to a victory. Trailing by eight at half, the Bruins forced overtime and a jumper by Roll with 1.9 seconds left gave UCLA a 76-75 win. Here's the box score.
Player of the game honors certainly go to Roll. In addition to his game winning jumper off of a beautiful bank pass by Jerime Anderson, Roll was able to hit for a team-high 19 points to go along with five assists. Dragovic chimed in with 18 points and four assists of his own and while his defense was horrendous, he did hit some big shots so in a season with little to cheer about, we'll stick to that. Reeves Nelson had 15 points and two blocks, one of which was a key one late. Most of Nelson's damage came at the line, both literally and figuratively. Seven if Nelson's points came on free throws, but he did attempt 14 of them, bringing attention to UCLA's 15-26 effort as a team from the line. UCLA is the Pac-10's worst free throw shooting team and couldn't even live up to those expectations today, coming up short of their season average.
This way by no means a pretty game for UCLA. At times, the UCLA defense looked like they were training to be bullfighter, zone or man. There were a couple key stops though, namely Nelson's block and I would be remiss if I didn't mention a fantastic block by Bobo Morgan in the first half. While Cal made a distinct effort to attack Dragovic, it is also concerning to see the Bears get the ball to the free throw line against the UCLA zone off of the dribble. You cannot allow dribble penetration in the zone and UCLA did. As I said, it was not a pretty game and UCLA has a lot to work on, but when you can get a road win in the Pac-10, you take it and with this team, you run with it.
If there is one thing we can take from this game it is the effort and passion they showed throughout the second half and in overtime. While there were dozens of stupid plays by a variety of guys, the effort was there. Malcolm Lee, for the struggles he had, did his best to keep playing through some cramps (his frequent cramping has to be a concern though) and the entire Bruin team clearly were passionate and intense about winning this game. Lee's wanting to fight through the pain and the reactions of the bench in a tight game are just a couple examples, but you can all chime in with your own because they were a plenty.
Now, the key for UCLA will be translating this performance into another strong one on Saturday. A few times this season, including just last week, UCLA followed up a good effort with an embarrassment. That can't happen in what is always a hostile Maples Pavilion. This is your postgame thread so do with it what you'd like. That is everyone except N who is too busy eating crow.