In hindsight, we shouldn't have expected much more than this. The Bruins had not pulled out a victory in Seattle since 2004, and despite a rare Thursday night date in Hec Ed and another strong defensive effort, both of which typically point toward a UCLA victory, the Bruins could not keep it up late, falling to the Huskies 70-63. The game started with a competition between the teams as to who could miss more shots - UCLA starting 4-13 from the field, bested only by Washington's 4-18 effort to open the evening. Washington's decisive early advantage on the offensive boards allowed them to overcome Isaiah Thomas's absence from the offensive ledger (starting 0-7 from the field, and finishing the game 3-12 with 9 points) - and 7-33 shooting (36% shooting for the game) - to trail by only a 25-24 score at the half.
Washington started the second half on a streak, scoring a quick series of points that made one fear the typical Seattle rout was about to begin. After a Howland timeout, the Bruins answered back with a quick pair of baskets to square the game back up at 29. The game went back and forth for the next ten minutes or so, until the game got to the final six minutes. Huskies freshman C.J. Wilcox did his best Jorge Gutierrez impression in torching the Bruins in the second half (7-10 shooting, 6-6 from the line and 24 points, all of which came in the latter frame), taking over the game late in powering Washington to the finish. Starting with a Wilcox 3-pointer with 6:22, Washington went on a 12-3 run to open up a lead that the Bruins would never threaten. Unlike most games at Hec Ed/Bank of America Arena/Alaska Airlines Arena/Latest Corporate Whore Arena, Washington did not benefit from a massive advantage with the zebras. Including late deliberate fouls on the Bruins part, Washington only benefited by a 19-15 foul advantage, and Venoy Overton even got called for one of his obvious dives! One point of concern is that the Huskies did get 28 attempts from the line (20-28) from those fouls, while the Bruins only got 13 shots from the charity stripe (12-13). Speaking of, UCLA shooting 12-13 from the line has to be some kind of CBH-era record!
ESPN analyst - and hopefully future UCLA assistant coach - Miles Simon called out Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt midway into the 2nd half for not showing up in this big game. With regard to Nelson, it really was a story of two halves. He actually started the game rather well, scoring 10 points in the half and providing some needed energy, and a couple of nice dishes. Had the game ended then, all would be well with Reeves. Sadly, there was another half for him to contest, and it got pretty ugly for him. While pulling in a few rebounds, Reeves failed to score on seven shots from the field, and hurt the team down the stretch with a couple of dumb moves; the missed three-point attempt was not a wise decision, but the technical foul soon after was a complete dumb-ass move that helped get Washington into gear. Even during his stronger early play, his struggles continued on other fronts, with his opposite number in purple - Matthew Bryan-Amaning - dominating on the offensive glass with 5 early offensive rebounds, 7 for the game (among 13 rebounds overall). While folks here might disagree with the contention that he is one of our two best players right now, Simon's statement on Honeycutt however was spot on. While Reeves was hot and cold, it seemed that Tyler missed the team bus this evening, with the quietest performance that I can recall in a season where he has often underperformed his hype. He hit his free throws, but was a non-factor otherwise, missing all six shot attempts and turning over the ball three times.
With that said, there were two stars of the evening for the Bruins...
There were many of us that were concerned about Joshua Smith's return to Seattle. While he started off a little slowly, he soon shook off the nerves and showed that he has certainly grown since his unfortunate outburst at the Galen Center. By halftime, he had nearly hit double-digits on the glass, his play punctuated with a sequence in which he grabbed a defensive rebound, got the offensive rebound on the other end and threw down a slam. His play continued through the game, grabbing nearly any ball that came to him, finishing the game with a double-double; 12 points along with a game high 16 rebounds. His effort also showed in a second half sequence in which he dived to the floor to coral a loose ball, completing a nice pass that Brenden Lane sadly could not catch (wasting a key opportunity).
While Joshua's homecoming was the main individual storyline, Jerime Anderson was arguably the player of the game for the Bruins. With Zeek still somewhat hobbled by his injured wrist, Jerime responded with maybe his best game as a Bruin, hitting multiple clutch 3's, leading the team with 16 points on 6-9 shooting, and throwing in 3 steals for good measure. The main subs saw some key playing time early - as DCBruins foreshadowed this morning - but were absent come crunch time, also as noted, with their one-dimensional play.
With tonight's loss, the Bruins fall a game behind Arizona for the Pac-10 lead, and sit a game ahead of the Huskies with one game remaining in the season, UCLA closes out the regular season with a Saturday game in the Palouse against a Washington State team that held off a late U$C charge to win this evening, 85-77. Game time is 2:30pm Pacific. This is your post-game thread. As always,